New York Yankees News 12/01: All you need to know in one place

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Second ex-Yankee pitcher goes to East rival

The New York Yankees may be haunted this season when they face ex-Yankee pitchers. Just over a week, ago the Tampa Bay Rays picked up 2021 Yankee pitcher and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. The move by the Rays was made after the Yankees failed to offer the no-hitter pitcher a contract for the new season.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that a second ex-Yankee pitcher would be playing for another AL East rival. James Paxton, who pitched for the Yankees in 2020, has been picked up by the Boston Red Sox. Paxton was 16-7 in 2019 and 2020 for the Yankees. The injury-prone pitcher’s contract was not renewed, and he moved on to the Seattle Mariners, where he started only one game. But the Red Sox will take a chance with the pitcher who had Tommy John surgery last season. The contract is for one year at $10 million with a club option for 2023. He will not start the season, but the Yankees can expect to see him on the mound at Fenway Park at some point in the future.

Gary Sanchez remains the Yankee catcher for 2022

At the end of every season, the Yankees contemplate Gary Sanchez’s future, who hasn’t had a good year with the Yankees since 2017. This past season, Sanchez handled the backstop job a bit better than in 2020, but with very inconsistent hitting, and a degraded arm, the Yankees again considered non-tendering him. Sanchez has his supporters, but most fans would like to see him gone.

In previous articles, I have said that Sanchez would not be going anywhere, mostly due to the Yankees’ need to upgrade other positions and the lack of catcher options on the market. Last night many fans were wondering if the Yankees would tender him by the deadline. The Yankees did indeed tender him, so the duo of Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka will man the backstop for the upcoming season. Sanchez was given a 27% raise, worth an estimated $8 million.

Yankee non-tender candidates sticking around

The Yankees not only tendered catcher Gary Sanchez but all of their non-tender candidates. First baseman Luke Voit and third baseman Miguel Andujar will be hanging around as well. The caveat doesn’t necessarily mean they will be playing for the team, but it does mean the Yankees will have something to fall back on should they be unsuccessful in free agency or in the trade market. Tonight the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. The Yankees will at least know they still have some options at those positions.

The Yankees also cleaned up some loose ends by giving contracts to Gio Urshela ($6.55 million), Domingo German ($1.75 million), and Lucas Luetge $905,000.

Chris Gittens won’t be playing for the Yankees

The Scranton Wilkes/Barre sensation, Chris Gittens, who got to play in a few games at Yankee Stadium last season, is no longer a Yankee and will be playing in Japan this season.

With the RailRiders, he hit .301 with 14 home runs in just 45 games. In this writer’s opinion, he was mishandled on the major league level, getting only 36 at-bats in 16 games that were scattered during the season, which never allowed him to get into his groove. He ended up hitting just .111 with just one home run. The Yankees released him.

Will the Yankees trade for shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa?

With the Yankees losing out on Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote that New York is expected to contact the Texas Rangers inquiring about shortstop Kiner-Falefa. Andy Martino echoed the report on Tuesday, saying that the Yankees had already contracted the Rangers.

With the acquisition of Cory Seager, the Rangers no longer need their 2020 shortstop. Should the Yankees work out a deal with the Rangers, make no mistake about it, the Rangers went after Seager to replace Kiner-Falefa, who is not the greatest shortstop, but for the Yankees would certainly be an upgrade from Gleyber Torres. Kiner-Falefa is a very good defender but not great offensively.

A big plus with the 26-year-old is that he stays healthy and is very durable. He played in all but six games in the last two seasons. In 2021 he had a slash line of .271/.312/.357 with 8 homers and 53 RBIs. He also stole 20 bases. Compared to Gleyber Torres, he would be a solid addition to the team.

Yankees sign infielder Jose Peraza to a minor league contract

The New York Yankees guaranteed themselves a backup at shortstop with the signing of Jose Peraza. Peraza is also a utility player that can play just about anywhere, but don’t be mistaken, Peraza is no upgrade from Tyler Wade.

Between 2019 and 2021, Peraza played in just over 200 games with only 13 homers and a batting average of just over .225. His last good season was in 2018 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit .288/.326/.416 with 14 homers. If he ever reaches the big team for the Yankees he will be a bench piece. For the time being, he will share the infield with another Peraza, Oswald for the Rail Riders.

Could Chris Taylor replace Tyler Wade?

The New York Yankee history shows that the front office loves players that can play multiple positions responsibly. In that end, they may target the former Dodger player Chris Taylor. Taylor is probably the most versatile player of all 2021 free agents.

In 2021 he played 33 games at second base, 9 at third base, 19 at shortstop, 16 in left field, 48 in center, and a few games in right field at Dodger Stadium. Although not above average at all positions, he is adequate wherever the Yankees might need him.

CBA expiration looming, will there be a lockout?

As of right now, it appears MLB will be in a lockdown when the sun rises tomorrow. Going into the last day of negotiations, the sides are still far apart on several issues. Two important ones to be resolved is that the players want more money earlier in their careers, and the owners want to keep that money. Yes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it is all about money.

Another sticky point, players for decades have generally been fine with a six-year path to free agency – but not when teams so blatantly manipulate the service time of budding stars to make it a seven-year slog suddenly. For the most part, in the last several agreements, the owners have pretty much had their own way. This time the players are not going to take it anymore, thus the likely hood of a lockout.

If there is a lockout, all transactions will cease. The last time there was a work stoppage, it was when the players refused to play. It was 1994 during August in a season without baseball, without a World Series that lasted until it delayed the start of the 1995 season. Ruffling fans, many left the game for other sports. Although a stoppage rewards neither side, it looks inevitable. The big loser is the fans themselves, especially if the issues can’t be hammered out by spring training.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Will Paxton haunt the Yankees,? Some Yankee times firmed up, and more

New York Yankees, James Paxton

James Paxton throwing well but unsigned

The New York Yankees James Paxton is no longer on the team after the Yankees let him walk into free agency after the 2020 season. But will the Yankees be haunted by that move? The news is that Paxton has been pitching like an ace during the offseason.

During the offseason, Paxton has been working out with the Detroit Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd. According to Boyd, the lefthander has been dynamite even though he still remains unsigned. The Yankees at the end of the season lost Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and J. A. Happ to free agency. Tanaka has returned to Japan to pitch for his old team, where he is a national hero. Happ was signed by the Minnesota Twins, but Paxton still has not found a home for the 2021 season.

“Whoever gets him is going to get a steal,” Boyd said Wednesday on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. The New York Yankees know that Paxton can be an ace-like pitcher when he is healthy. The problem with Paxton and most likely the reason that he has not been unsigned is that he can’t seem to stay healthy. Last season, Paxton made just five starts, going on the injured list in August with a left forearm flexor strain. He had lower back surgery in February, which made him miss the initial spring training.

Boyd went on to say: “And he’s pumping the ball right now, too,” Boyd said. “He looks better than he ever has. We dove into some stuff, breaking down fastballs and understanding spin direction and all that. His ball just takes off. It’s fun to catch. I’m hoping he ends up in a Tigers uniform or something like that. Whoever gets him, they’re getting an ace.”

Many Yankees times are firmed up

The Yankees will start all their April weekday home games, except for Fridays at 6:35 p.m. again this season. Major League Baseball released the times for all games on Thursday, and the Yankees open their season at home on April 1, at 1:05 pm against the Toronto Blue Jays. Sunday games will be on ESPN and times are subject to change.

Highlights of the Yankees’ schedule include the Astros’ first trip to The Bronx since their 2017 sign-stealing scandal broke when Houston visits from May 4-6 which should be very interesting, because the Yankees have not forgotten their loss in 2017 due to the Astro’s cheating.  The Red Sox come to The Bronx on June 4 and the Yankees go to Boston for the first time on June 25. The two teams will be the only game in MLB on July 15 following the All-Star break, when they play at the Stadium to open a four-game set.

On Aug. 12, the Yankees will face the White Sox in the Field of Dreams game in Iowa after it was canceled a year ago due to the pandemic. The final series of the regular season comes against the Rays at the Stadium, with the last game on Oct. 3.

Should the Yankees target Tony Watson?

There is still time for the Yankees to complete one last free agent signing for their bullpen. They don’t necessarily have to, but adding another veteran, proven arm to a talented group can make them an even better team. During the offseason, the Yankees signed some returning arms in Cortes Jr. and Adam Warren. In a major signing, the signed Darren O’Day one of the best relievers during the 2020 season. He had a 1.10 ERA.

The Yankees might want to consider adding lefty Tony Watson to the already good bullpen. The Yankees could afford Watson as he would only take $2 plus million away from their reported access of $9 million without going over the dread luxury tax threshold. Watson is a left-handed relief pitcher with plenty of big-league experience; he has ten years already under his belt. He will turn 36 during the season, and a one-year commitment should be enough to lure him.

New York Yankees: James Paxton is reportedly on the Blue Jays’ radar

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees lost three members of their 2020 starting rotation to free agency: James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ. The latter signed with the Minnesota Twins this week, while the other two remain unsigned.

The Yankees brought Corey Kluber on a one-year, $11 million deal, but there is still work to be done to shore up the rotation. After Gerrit Cole, there is just too much uncertainty and inexperience. Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, and Clarke Schmidt form a very good group, and Luis Severino will be healthy, presumably, by the All-Star break. But there is still a feeling that they are one arm short.

This is a problem because the Tampa Bay Rays are very good, even after losing two aces, and the Toronto Blue Jays have a much improved offense. They signed outfielder George Springer, closer Kirby Yates, and have an impressive core of batters.

Now, they need quality starting pitching to compete with the Yankees and Rays. And according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, they are making their due dilligences to bring talent into the organization.

“The very active Blue Jays are looking at starting pitching now and have James Paxton among others on their radar,” Heyman tweeted on Friday.

Paxton had a rough 2020 with the Yankees

The 2020 season started poorly for Paxton, then with the New York Yankees. He was punished in his first few turns and his fastball velocity was down significantly, from his usual 95 mph to 90-91.

He ended up missing the majority of the 2020 campaign with a left flexor strain after just five starts.

He finished 2020 with a 6.64 ERA in 20.1 frames, but his FIP was a much more decent 4.37. In a recent showcase, the former Yankees’ southpaw showed encouraging signs: According to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, he reached 94 mph during a recent throwing session for scouts.

Truth be told, Paxton and the Yankees make sense for at least a one-year reunion. However, the organization doesn’t seem too inclined to seriously discuss a deal with him or Tanaka.

New York Mets: Three Candidates To Round Out The Starting Rotation

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Mets still need another arm to solidify their rotation as they wait for Noah Syndergaard‘s midseason return. The next expensive purchase for Steve Cohen will likely go towards George Springer over Trevor Bauer. In that case, here are three good options the Mets can sign for 2021.

1. James Paxton

Unless they overpay like the New York Yankees did for Corey Kluber, James Paxton should be a bargain for whichever team signs him. Injuries and lack of spring training cause Paxton to finish 2020 with an ERA over four for the first time in his career.

Paxton touched 94 mph on his fastball during a throwing session in December with just under 20 teams in attendance. The velocity is slightly under his typical mark, but it is an encouraging sign as he recovers from a flexor strain. Paxton would be a one-year rental and give the Mets a fifth starter with a reliable track record.

2. Gio Gonzalez

 

Gio Gonzalez was once a nemesis of the Mets during his days as a Washington National. Even after he left, Gonzalez still found a way to have success in Citi Field. Gonzalez is 11-2 with a 1.83 ERA and one shutout over 18 starts at Citi Field. He said he feels comfortable pitching in Citi Field and is another reliable option for their fifth starter. Gonzalez also understands his role as a reliever when Syndergaard returns and in the postseason.

3. Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker is a younger version of Kluber’s value in the free-agent market. Walker is only heading into his age-28 season and is coming off a 2.70 ERA in 2020. He may warrant more money due to his age and past performance, but his injuries are always a major risk. Walker has never made 30 starts in his career, and the last time he made at least 20 starts was in 2017. He has a 3.84 ERA in his career and gives the Mets another formidable starter without the pressure to pitch major innings.

New York Mets: Are James Paxton or Corey Kluber Worth The Risk?

New York Yankees, James Paxton

On Tuesday, reports surfaced of the New York Mets planning to attend Corey Kluber‘s showcase on January 13 and viewed James Paxton throw a couple of weeks ago. Both pitchers come off disappointing 2020 seasons and hope to resurrect their careers this year. The Mets plan to be contenders in 2021, but are these the answers to their rotation problems?

Paxton came to the New York Yankees in 2019 as the left handed-starter they needed after C.C. Sabathia’s time in pinstripes was coming to an end. He started slow but pitched to a 2.25 ERA in his last 10 starts, all wins. Paxton continued that dominance into the postseason with two dominant starts against the Houston Astros.

He suffered from a lack of spring training in 2020 and had a 6.64 ERA in five starts. A flexor strain in his left forearm caused his season to end prematurely. It was Paxton’s first full season with an ERA over four, and it dramatically dropped his value. Paxton’s injury history and inability to pitch deep into games limit him as a front line starter, but he fits as a back end option.

Should they sign a more reliable starter, Paxton is a good choice for the fifth spot. Three healthy months from Paxton is a solid expectation. When Noah Syndergaard returns, the Mets can opt for a six-man rotation or put Paxton in the bullpen.

Two-Two-Time Former Cy Young Winners?

Corey Kluber has an imposing resume over his ten big league seasons. He is a two-time Cy Young winner, three-time All-Star, and an ERA champ. His downside of heading into his age-35 season and going two full years without pitching a full season is a red flag. Kluber’s last two seasons are injury-plagued, with a torn teres major muscle limiting him to one inning in 2020.

Unless the Mets scouts are 100 percent sure Kluber is at his Cy Young form, the Mets should not guarantee him a rotation spot. If they were too cheap to get better options, then Kluber would be fine. Kluber is an older pitcher who has logged plenty of innings in a short amount of time. The Mets do not have the minor league depth to replace another injury-plagued pitcher.

With either pitcher, I would be inclined to bring one of them in once the rotation is set. Using each pitcher as a fifth starter is plausible but using Kluber as a safety net is preferable. In the end, both pitchers will get better offers from teams most desperate than the Mets. Those offers make Paxton or Kluber signing with the Mets unlikely.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Tanaka likely to be a Yankee, Garcia maybe not, and much more

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

With no decisions made, New York Yankee fans are getting antsier by the day while waiting to see what their team will look like in 2021. It appears that general manager Brian Cashman has everything on hold until he finds out if the team can resign the second baseman and batting title holder DJ LeMahieu. It now appears that if they can get a deal done, even if it’s a compromise, it will cost them more than they wanted.

Although the Yankees would love to resign their best player, it does present problems in an offseason where the front office doesn’t want to spend much money to stay below the luxury tax threshold after tremendous losses last year due to the coronavirus and the unclear outlook for 2021. The Yankees, after the season, let three pitchers walk, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ. Previously it only seemed that they might be interested in only resigning Tanaka, but that might not be the case.

For years Masahiro Tanaka has said that he would like to end his baseball career back in Japan with his team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, who he last pitched for in 2013. Tanaka is a national hero in Japan. But that might be delayed. He recently admitted to NJ.com that he wants to remain a New York Yankee and will not consider playing for another American team in favor of returning to his homeland.

That statement may make it easier for the Yankee front office to resign the pitcher that has been good to very good for five of his seven years with the team. As the days pass, it seems likely that the Yankees will offer Tanaka a contract for one or two years at roughly half what he earned in 2020, if that. Tanaka had a solid 2020, finishing with a 3.56 ERA, 44 strikeouts even though he went only 3-3 in ten starts. Seeing that Tanaka has indicated he won’t likely deal with another team may get a deal done.

Four Players the Yankees could trade, two will shock you!

The New York Yankees will not be spending big to improve the team for the 2021 season, or at least it appears that way as they look to cut $30-40 million off their 2020 payroll expenditures. With that in mind, general manager Brian Cashman will be forced to trade off some players he may not want to, to make improvements in the team, most likely before spring training.

Even though the New York Yankees have pretty much been dead in the search for free agents, once they know the outcome of their priority to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, things will shift into high gear. If they can’t resign him, they will have $20 to $25 million more to spend. Although that amount may seem like a lot, just one number two-like starter could eat all that up. The answer is to trade prospects to get what they need.

Two of the most likely to be traded are Miguel Andujar that they don’t have much use for and number two pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt. The other two would shock Yankees fans, Deivi Garcia or Luke Voit. Although Voit would be the last resort after hitting the most home runs in baseball, Garcia could be in the mix. There is no question that if the Yankees are to make improvements, mostly in the starting rotation and the bullpen, they will have to make some trades that will hurt to get deals done.

Could the Yankees be taking a second look at James Paxton?

With the only pitchers in free agency that would dramatically change the Yankees’ chances of getting to another World Series after a very long drought being very costly, the Yankees will be looking for mid-rotation pitchers for relief. It appears the Yankees will need one veteran pitcher that can give them innings. They also need a good arm to replace Tommy Kahnle that has now signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the next two years and the faltering Adam Ottavino.

Reports are that the Yankees are not all out on the familiar James Paxton for another try. Paxton went 1-1 with an ERA of 6.64 this past season as dogging surgery issues allowed him only 5 starts on the season. A completely rehabbed Paxton could be a solid addition to a rotation that will lack veterans. He is 57-33 in his career and was one of the best 2019 pitchers for the Yankees when he recorded 15 wins against only six losses.

If the Yankees decide to sign Paxton for the 2021 season, it will not be near his 2020 salary after his poor showing. It is also not likely that other MLB teams will throw a lot of money at him either. He will likely only earn in the $7-10 million range for the 32-year-old. In this cost-cutting year, if the Yankees re-sign Tanaka and Paxton, they will get solid production near half the cost of last year.

Plan B is more likely by the day

With each passing day, it is less likely that the New York Yankees will be able to re-sign Yankee star player DJ LeMahieu. According to who you want to believe, the deal could be off the table due to the sides being off as much as $50 million in money and two years in contract length.

All of this, as other teams are hot on the trail of tieing up the star for a multi-year deal. The Los Angeles Dodgers have already taken star relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle from coming back to the Yankees also want DJ LeMahieu for his hitting ability and ability to play any infield position. Most industry insiders feel that DJ will end up with the Toronto Blue Jays, which would be the Yankees’ worst nightmare.

It appears that the main sticking point to the Yankees making a deal with LeMahieu is not money; it’s contract length. DJ is demanding five years of security, and the Yankees don’t want to go for more than three years. If the sides could both compromise for a four-year deal, DJ might accept it. However, if the Dodgers or Blue Jays drop five years on DJ, he will be gone, leaving the Yankees with a whole new plan to improve the team.

If unable to sign LeMahieu, it will leave the team with an additional $25 million to get a hard-hitting shortstop or second baseman possibly. They could also further address the catching situation. Not signing LeMahieu will turn the offseason for the Yankees on its head. There will be acquisitions and, more likely several trades on the block for a team with early exits in the postseasons and has not had a World Series win since 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

Yankees News/Rumors: Two familiar starting pitchers could be in play to return to the Bronx

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees have to allocate resources toward the starting pitching rotation whether they like it or not. With three starters hitting free agency, they must supplement their losses, and Luis Severino cannot be trusted to hold down the fort.

Severino isn’t even supposed to return until after the start of the 2021 regular season, so general manager Brian Cashman must take that into account.

Severino last pitched in 2018, going down early this past year and needing Tommy John surgery. In his prime, Severino was close to reaching ace status, but after two years without a significant sample size, going into the 2021 season, expecting him to be the number two behind Gerrit Cole would be an optimistic decision.

Then there is Domingo German, who the Yankees expect to gain back after being suspended for a domestic violence dispute. He has been hit around in the Dominican Republic, as he participates in winter ball with Gary Sanchez and a few other Yankees.

However, there are familiar faces that Cashman could consider, especially if he feels uncomfortable bringing in new players on cost-efficient contracts that might not represent quality.

The New York Yankees could consider retaining a familiar face:

James Paxton:

Paxton is a good option for the Yankees if they want to sign a player with ties to the team on a minimal deal. He pitched in just 20.1 innings this past year, so the Yankees could probably retain him on a short contract that wouldn’t eat up too much salary.

When at the top of his game, Paxton is a dangerous lefty pitcher who adds plenty of value to the rotation. It seems as if he is back to full health, recently pitching for 20 teams and hitting as high as 94 mph with his fastball.

Masahiro Tanaka:

Reports have indicated that Masahiro Tanaka will likely head back to Japan if the Yankees don’t offer him a new deal. Tanaka had a solid 2020, finishing with a 3.56 ERA, 44 strikeouts, and 8.25 strikeouts per nine. It has become clear that Tanaka is not a high strikeout pitcher but utilizes his finesse to create ground balls and easy out opportunities.

He did allow nine homers this past season and had a few tough performances, especially in the postseason. Usually, Tanaka is a consistent pitcher that the Yankees can rely on, but he’s no longer worth the $26 million he was set to make in 2020.

If the Yankees offered him a two-year deal worth $15-16 million per season, I would be happy with it. He’s one of the better options on the market that won’t cost upwards of $20 million, so he represents a possible option for Cashman as he navigates this strange off-season.

Too much of the Yankees’ off-season plans revolve around the extension of DJ LeMahieu, so I wouldn’t expect much action until they figure out that deal.

New York Yankees: James Paxton shows improved velocity in workout

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees were banking on a strong season from lefty James Paxton when MLB kicked off in July. Unfortunately, he was battered in his first few turns and showed dimished velocity, which was a concerning development because in the vast majority of cases, that is associated with an injury.

Since starting in the 90-91 mph range, Paxton’s velo was slowly starting to creep up to more respectable levels, but still, far from the 95.5 mph he averaged in 2019. And, as it turns out, he was injured: a left flexor strain cost him the rest of the season, as he hit the injured list after making only five starts.

Now, the New York Yankees’ left-hander isn’t associated with the team anymore, as he is now a free agent. In a market short of elite pitching, Paxton could secure a relatively good deal if he shows other teams he’s healthy.

The former Yankees’ pitcher is generating interest

According to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, Paxton reached 94 mph during a recent throwing session for scouts. That’s an encouraging sign for the southpaw. It’s not quite his usual velocity, but at this time of the year, clubs will see it as a good sign.

According to Morosi, “as many as 20 teams” sent representatives to watch the workout. It’s not yet known if the Yankees were on that group.

Paxton’s agent, Scott Boras, has naturally been talking up his player, saying that he’s healthy and that he is generating plenty of interest in the open market. His recent showcase seems to validate both claims.

Overall, Paxton is looking to leave behind a very bad 2020 on a personal level. He struggled to a 6.64 ERA in 20.1 frames, and while his FIP was a much more decent 4.37, it was clear from the beginning that he was dealing with some kind of injury. In the five starts he covered for the Yankees this season, his fastball averaged 92.1 mph.

Yankees News/Rumors: Don’t rule out a James Paxton return to the Bronx

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees are preoccupied this free agency with DJ LeMahieu’s contract negotiations, but that doesn’t mean they are completely ignoring starting pitching. They have to replace James Paxton, JA Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka, who together opened up $52 million in available cap.

However, general manager Brian Cashman has committed to a long-term approach this off-season. He wants to wait until the latter months of free agency to address positions of need, allowing the more expensive players to shake out and more cost-efficient options to bubble to the surface. Ultimately, acting too early could result in overspending, something the Yankees are trying to refrain from after a tumultuous COVID-19 riddled season.

With Cashman looking to save money, don’t expect the Yankees to make any splash moves and bring in a player like Trevor Bauer unless LeMahieu walks for a better deal. One player to keep your eye on is a familiar face in James Paxton, who is preparing to make a comeback following a flexor strain he suffered in 2020.

Super-agent Scott Boras told MLB.com this past week regarding Paxton’s return from injury:

“He’s far into bullpen [sessions] and is throwing bullpens for select teams,” Boras said. “Obviously, he was not completely rehabilitated when he made an attempt to help his club and come back. Now, he’s certainly got his back strength back to 100% and he’s back throwing off the mound and doing well.”

Paxton only made five appearances in 2020, pitching a total of 20.1 innings. He finished with a 6.64 ERA and a career-low 32.1% ground ball rate. Honestly, it is not even fair to consider the 2020 numbers in a grander sample size. Looking at his 2019 season is more justifiable for a future contract. He finished with a 3.82 ERA with 11.11 strikeouts per nine and 15 wins.

The New York Yankees might take the cheaper route:

When healthy, Paxton is a phenomenal lefty pitcher who can offer significant value to any team. The Yankees don’t have many lefty arms, so his talents are extremely valuable, especially when he is playing at the top of his game. Paxton signed a one-year, $12.5 million deal with the Yankees last season, but an injury ended his campaign prematurely and severely limited the Bombers in the starting rotation, forcing them to rely on younger arms.
If Paxton is, in fact, 100% healthy, the Yankees could probably land him on a cost-efficient deal, and they know exactly what he brings to the team when he’s healthy. This would be a move I would welcome.

New York Yankees: What kind of contract is James Paxton looking at during free agency?

New York Yankees, James Paxton

James Paxton is an extremely talented pitcher. He has a 3.58 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 753.1 career innings, with a very good 26.5 K%. When he’s on, he can be very dominant, and the New York Yankees know that. They were his team for the last two years. But now, the southpaw is set to test free agency.

Yet, there is a feeling that it may not be the best of times for him to enter the free agent market. Sure, there aren’t too many top arms out there, but teams usually like safer bets to stay healthy when they are going to splash the cash.

Between his age (32,) his extensive injury history, the fact that he showed diminished velocity in 2020, and the left flexor strain that led to his absence during the Yankees’ playoff run, chances are that he won’t score the lucrative multiyear deal he probably deserves.

Those are probably the reasons why the New York Yankees don’t seem in a hurry to bring him back for the 2021 season. According to reports, “Paxton is in line for a one-year deal in the $8-10 million range. Perhaps a team sweetens the offer with a second-year option that vests with a certain number of starts.”

He didn’t have a good season for the Yankees

Of course, Paxton’s agent Scott Boras recently said that “there’s a great deal of interest” in the left-hander. But what else is he supposed to say? He is coming off a 6.64 ERA in the shortened 2020 season. He lost several miles off his fastball to start the year, and just when he was starting to get some of his velo back and right the ship, he went down with an arm injury.

Rotoworld speculates that “Paxton might be open to accepting a one-year bounce-back type of free agent deal this winter. Or maybe there’s a strong enough market that he could score high-dollar multi-year offers.”

NBC Sports Philadelphia reports “there will be plenty of interest in Paxton but he’s more of a buy-low candidate given his rocky 2020 and long injury history. Of course, he’s also represented by Scott Boras, so Paxton’s next contract probably will not be too team-friendly.”

Perhaps he can get that multiyear deal after all. But let’s also keep in mind that teams are going with cost-effective moves these days more often than not, and Marcus Stroman recently took a one-year qualifying offer after seeing what was there for him in the market.

The Yankees, as always, should be monitoring his market.