James Paxton talks free agency
James Paxton has already been through the life of a free agent two different times. The first occasion came after the 2020 season when he inked a one-year deal with Seattle while coming off back and elbow injuries. The second was when the Red Sox committed to the lefty despite knowing his first year with the organization would be coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Now the 34-year-old is bracing himself for another go-round.
"I think I’m in a different spot this time around in free agency than I was last time. I’m not injured. I’m going to come in ready to pitch right away, so that’s different," he told the 'Baseball Isn't Boring' podcast. "Who knows what’s going to happen? I don’t know what teams are going to come calling. What the Red Sox needs are. What direction they are going. I will be open to everything and then make a decision with my family and figure out what is best for us."
He added, "This is going to be the most normal free agency I have ever had, and it’s still not 100 percent normal. I’m still building back from Tommy John, but I feel I have more of a base now having almost pitched 100 innings this year to be ready to pitch close to a full load next year."
While the case for Paxton is much stronger heading into free agency this time around than the previous pair of opportunities, it isn't without some obstacles.
Paxton was limited to 19 starts this season due to hamstring and knee injuries, the latter shutting down his season in early September.
When it was all said and done, the lefty did make a solid case for his potential going forward, never having any issues with his throwing arm while totaling a 4.50 ERA over 96 innings. His stuff played for the most part thanks to a fastball that averaged 95.2 mph, the same as his last full season in 2019.
But Paxton is also realistic. Having gone through the process before he understands his market won't likely be surfaced in the first wave of free agent starters, with the likes of Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, Lucas Giolito, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery and Yoshinobu Yamamoto also in the mix.
And while he clearly has a liking for the Red Sox' organization - having accepted a $4 million player option to stay in 2023 - and the club needing starters, his future in Boston is certainly in doubt.
"There is no one I have talked to right now," Paxton explained. "The Red Sox have some work to do on their end, finding someone to lead the organization going forward. We’ll see what happens when that time comes."
The one thing he does know is that free agency won't be ruining an offseason of family time and fishing in the Seattle area.
"That’s not really my personality," he said regarding worrying about where he will end up. "I have been in this game a while and I know how the business works in the game and I know it’s going to be a little while before deals start coming my way. But I’m a patient guy and I will see what happens."
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