James Paxton’s first start caused a lot of concern with Yankee fans. As an upcoming free agent, will Paxton get an extension from the Yankees?
Last offseason, Brian Cashman traded Justus Sheffield, Dom Thompson-Williams, and Erik Swanson to the Mariners in exchange for James Paxton. The Canadian southpaw was brought to the Yankees to be a second or third starter in the rotation behind Luis Severino and possibly Masahiro Tanaka.
Paxton is entering the final year of his contract in which he is slated to become a free agent after the season. But should the 31-year-old receive an offer from the Yankees?
In 29 starts during the 2019 season, Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and 186 strikeouts over 150.2 innings. What makes it even more impressive is that Paxton ended July with a 5-6 record and won 10 straight decisions in August and September. He was the ace of the rotation during these two months.
The 2020 season has yet to be kind to Paxton. In February, he had a procedure to remove a cyst in his back that would’ve kept him out for three to four months. Luckily for him, he did not miss any starts during that time.
Paxton’s start against the Nationals last Saturday was very concerning. His fastball averaged 92 mph after averaging 95.6 mph last season and he struggled to locate pitches. He could not record a single out in the second inning and was pulled after allowing two runs and leaving the bases loaded.
Every pitcher will have their bad days where they cannot seem to get things going. However, a shortened season places much more pressure on these pitchers to have quality starts every night they pitch. If Paxton cannot pitch with a winning record this season, expect the Yankees to watch him walk.
Luckily for the Yankees, they can afford to let Paxton walk and focus on the possibility of re-signing either DJ LeMahieu or Masahiro Tanaka, possibly even both. Cashman has done a tremendous job of giving the Yankees plenty of pitching prospects that are capable of making an impact in the Majors, including Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, Michael King, and several others.
Paxton may get an extension from the Yankees if it’s at the right price. But there’s a good chance this is his final season with the Yankees.