Scott Boras, famed baseball agent, sat down with Brendan Kuty of NJ.com to discuss the status of his client, New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton.
A forearm flexor strain saw Paxton go on the IL after five games in 2020 and stay there for the rest of the season. He had a 1-1 record with a 6.64 ERA while seeing his velocity dip.
“[James] made every effort to try to contribute this year, but the back rehab just wasn’t there yet and he just needed more time to where he could really go through his normal mechanics of 2019,” said Boras to NJ.com.
After having time to rehab, Boras is starting to see his client return back to normal form.
“The truth of the matter was, his ability to be James Paxton, it just needed a few more months of rehab on his back and his strength. Getting the velocity, getting the balance and being able to torque his back the way it was, just after the surgery, he just needed time,” said Boras.
2019 saw Paxton pitch to a 15-6 record with a 3.82 ERA in 150.2 innings.
“He’s back to the James Paxton of ’19 in how he feels, how he’s throwing,” Boras told Kuty.
However, it’s no sure thing that Paxton will be a Yankee in 2021. He hits the free agency market for the first time, and the team has a lot of guys that could make the rotation. They might not have a need for Paxton.
Gerrit Cole is the only sure lock in the rotation next year, with Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, JA Happ, Clarke Schmidt, and Deivi Garcia all vying for spots. The team will also have Luis Severino returning from Tommy John surgery sometime towards the middle of the season. It’s also rumored that the Yankees could be in on signing free agent Trevor Bauer this offseason. Bauer’s 1.73 ERA this season puts him in the NL Cy Young award mix.
One of the things that goes in favor of Paxton getting resigned is the fact that he’s a lefty. Happ and Montgomery are also lefties, but a healthy Paxton is better than both. In 2020, Happ had a 3.47 ERA while Montgomery had a 5.11 ERA. However, Happ is aging and losing velocity while Montgomery hasn’t shown enough consistency.
Regardless, the Yankees have tough decisions to make in the rotation this offseason. Although Paxton is no guarantee to be a Yankee in 2021, the fact that he’s healthy again could help his chances.