The Dodgers are close to a deal with James Paxton

The Dodgers are close to a deal with James Paxton

The Dodgers are working on a deal with the left-hander James PaxtonJohn Heyman of the New York Post says,X link). If finalized, it would be a one-year deal for Boras’ client guaranteeing about $12 million, according to Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times (On X). The deal will also come with performance bonuses based on starts, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya reports (X link).

Los Angeles has been the most aggressive team in MLB. While they have committed over $1 billion in free agency, rotation depth is still a question mark. Shohei Otani He will not play in 2024 because he is back from elbow surgery. The Dodgers signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto And gained Tyler Glasnow To join Walker Buehler And Bobby Miller Above the starting crew.

There’s a lot of upside to that quartet, but it’s also a group that carries some risks. Yamamoto has been excellent in Japan, but has yet to play in the major tournaments. Glasnow’s career high in innings at the MLB level, established last season, is just 120 frames. Buehler missed all of last season recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. Miller had a very good rookie season but only has 22 MLB starts to his name.

Los Angeles had some notable deviations from the rotation. Julio Urias He is a free agent and is unlikely to return as MLB investigates domestic violence allegations against him. Clayton Kershaw Still unsigned. While the Dodgers would certainly welcome him back, he won’t be an option until at least midseason as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Ryan Peabut He was dealt to Tampa Bay in the Glasnow deal.

Tony Gonsolin He could miss all of next season after undergoing his TJS procedure in late August. Dustin May He will be sidelined for the season following flexor tendon surgery in early July. With both pitchers starting the season on the injured list, Los Angeles may have had to turn the fifth starting role into one Emmett Sheehan, Michael Groff, Ryan Yarbrough or Gavin Stone.

If they complete a deal for Paxton, he would take the final spot on the Opening Day staff. It’s definitely not an acceptable source for roles either. The 35-year-old has suffered countless injuries throughout his career, especially over the past four years. He was limited to five starts during the shortened 2020 season. His elbow gave out during his first start of the ’21 campaign, necessitating Tommy John surgery. His efforts to come back late in the ’22 season were derailed when he tore his stride in a minor league rehab stint.

A right hamstring strain forced the 6’4″ southpaw wing to open up last year on the IL as well. He finally returned to the mound in the second week of May. Despite the long layoff, Paxton brandished the 95 mph fastball he had before the surgery. For a while, that translated into excellent results. The Canadian hurler worked to a 2.73 ERA while striking out more than 29% of opposing hitters in 56 innings during the All-Star break.

He couldn’t maintain this form. Paxton allowed nearly seven earned runs per nine-over-40 innings after the Midsummer Classic. His strikeouts dropped to a modest 19.4% clip, while his walks jumped a few percentage points compared to the first half. Right knee inflammation put him back on the IL in early September and ended his season a few weeks early. He finished the year with a 4.50 ERA in 96 innings covering 19 starts. His 24.6% strikeout rate was slightly above average, while he walked an average of 8% of the batters he faced.

Given the volatility associated with the Dodgers’ array of innings, there’s an argument that they should have gone with a more stable source of innings pitched. However, this is not generally the way they prefer to build a staff. Los Angeles’ front office has shown a willingness to roll the dice on the upside while accepting the health risks. Paxton would be another such acquisition.

Naturally, the Dodgers are free to make these types of bets thanks to their spending power. Roster Resource projects the luxury organization’s tax liability for next season at a staggering $301 million. Signing Paxton would push that number to about $313 million, putting him ahead of the Yankees and alongside the Mets for the highest salaries in the sport. This comes with a huge tax bill.

The Dodgers are in the final tier of welfare penalties and have exceeded the minimum in each of the past two years. As a result, they are taxed at a rate of 110% on any spending at this point. Paxton’s deal will come with a $13.2 million fee, bringing their total outlay to $25.2 million for one year of his services.

That’s a mark that few, if any, teams come close to. However, it is the latest reflection of their comprehensive approach. Paxton will join Ohtani, Yamamoto, and Glasnow, Teoscar Hernandez, Manuel Margot And the returnees Jason Heyward And Joe Kelly As a notable offseason pickup as the Dodgers seek their 11th NL West title in the last 12 years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

(tags for translation) James Paxton

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