Analysis

The Yankees Should Take Another Swing at James Paxton

As Spring Training is right around the corner, the New York Yankees should be looking into bringing back a former southpaw for the rotation.

With the Superbowl behind us, baseball season is right around the corner. Teams will be holding full workouts within the next few weeks, pretty much wrapping up the offseason for most. For the New York Yankees, this Winter has had many turns and twists, with the Bombers making a flurry of moves to get themselves ready for a World Series run. It seems as if the Yanks are just about done adding for this season, but maybe bringing back one of their free-agent starting pitchers may be worth a look.

James Paxton’s Yankee Tenure

The Yankees acquired Paxton from the Seattle Mariners in November of 2018 for a package revolving around top prospect Justus Sheffield. Paxton pitched two seasons in the Bronx, both of which were impacted heavily by injuries. In total, Paxton made 34 starts for the Yankees, going 16-7 with a 4.16 ERA in 171 innings.

Paxton had a solid first season for the bombers, as in 150.2 innings, he pitched to a 3.82 ERA with a 3.86 FIP. By no means is this elite, but it’s still a solid total to put up in your first year in pinstripes. 2020, however, was a different story. Paxton’s ERA sat at an inflated 6.64 mark with a 4.37 FIP and a 4.47 xFIP. Despite this, Paxton still had strong strikeout numbers, setting down a little over 11 batters per nine innings in both seasons. Paxton’s downfall in 2020 was the dinger, as in just 20.1 innings, he allowed 1.77 home runs per nine innings, a 0.40 jump from his 2019 campaign. a left flexor strain ended his season in late August.

Why Should the Yankees Bring him Back?

As Paxton is coming off an underwhelming 2020 season riddled with injuries, his market price shouldn’t be that high. Paxton has shown flashes of brilliance in the past, like in 2018, where he pitched to a 3.24 FIP and a 3.04 xFIP across 160.1 innings. He would slot in nicely in the middle of the rotation as arms like Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Jhoulys Chacin would serve as valuable depth options. Considering the Yankees are no strangers to the injury bug, adding another piece to support the rotation wouldn’t hurt.

Bringing back Paxton on a one-year deal would be a solid short-term move for both the Yankees and The Big Maple, as Paxton likely wants to rebuild his value coming off his 2020 nightmare. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much linking the two sides this entire offseason, so I’m inclined to believe he lands elsewhere. I will say, though, that if the Yankees are indeed interested, another try on Paxton turn out to be a very solid move.

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