James Paxton Diagnosed With Lat Strain


Red Sox lefty James Paxton started a rehab assignment today, but left after facing only two batters. It was initially reported that this was lat tightness by Chris Cotillo of MassLivewith manager Alex Cora tell later Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe that Paxton has a lat trunk.

Cotillo adds that Paxton is going to see a doctor tomorrow to determine the seriousness of the problem, but there is no doubt that this is a significant setback for the pitcher. Today was his first throwing attempt in an organized competition since he had Tommy John surgery in April of last year. He would still need some time to take off for a starter’s workload and will now have to push that further down the road. Even a mild lat strain usually requires a 2-3 week recovery period meaning the left leg will likely be sidelined until sometime in September, even in the best case scenario.

It’s another disappointing development for Paxton, one of many in recent years, after an outstanding four-year performance. From 2016 to 2019, he threw at least 121 innings in each season, keeping his ERA below 4.00 in each campaign as well. He had a strikeout rate of 22.9% in 2016, but got it close to 30% in the last three years of that stretch.

Unfortunately, injuries limited him to just five starts in 2020 and then just one outing in 2021 before landing on the injured list. Despite two essentially lost seasons, the Red Sox took a chance on him last winter, hoping he could regain his previous form once he regained his health. The contract reflected his precarious status, with Paxton receiving a $6 million salary here in 2022 while in rehab. At the end of the year, Boston will have to decide whether or not to activate two $13MM club options for 2023 and 2024, essentially a $26MM two-year deal. If they decline, Paxton will get to decide on a $4MM player option for next season.

If Paxton had come through this rehab and looked like the solid mid-rotation arm he’d been before, there would have been good reason for the Red Sox to consider activating their option, especially with Nathan Eovaldic, Rich Hill and Michael Wacha slated to reach free agency this fall. There is also the uncertainty around Chris Sale, who has pitched fewer than 50 innings in the past three seasons due to his own injury concerns. However, the longer Paxton is out of action, the more the needle will move towards the club rejecting their end of the deal. As for Paxton’s side of things, that will also certainly depend on the severity of his injury and whether he thinks he can top this off-season $4MM on the open market.

In the short term, the Red Sox would certainly have liked Paxton to come back to help them with the long drive here in 2022, but that seems increasingly unlikely with today’s setback. Boston is currently four games behind Toronto and Tampa Bay for the final Wild Card spot in the American League, with three other clubs in between.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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