Red Sox left-hander James Paxton will make his organizational debut when he starts a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Thursday, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
Paxton, per Speier, is slated to pitch three innings when the FCL Red Sox take on the FCL Rays at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. It will be his first start at any level since April 6 of last year.
Then a member of the Mariners, Paxton tore his left ulnar collateral ligament in the second inning of his start against the White Sox. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery one week later.
Boston signed the 33-year-old southpaw to a unique one-year, $6 million contract last December. The deal includes a two-year, $26 million club option that the Red Sox can pick up at the end of the season. If they decline, Paxton could then exercise a $4 million player option for the 2023 campaign.
While injuries have hindered him throughout his big-league career, Paxton has proven to be an effective starer when healthy. With the Yankees in 2019, for instance, the Canadian-born hurler posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.86 FIP with 186 strikeouts to 55 walks over 29 starts spanning 150 2/3 innings of work. He has been limited to just six outings since then because of injury.
It remains to be seen how many rehab appearances Paxton will need before he is able to join the Red Sox’ starting rotation. Last year, fellow lefty Chris Sale made five starts across three levels while rehabbing from Tommy John before making his season debut for Boston on August 14.
Using that same sort of template, Paxton could potentially be back in the majors by early September, though that is no sure thing. In the meantime, it should be interesting to see how Paxton responds as he returns to competitive action. Last April, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder sat between 92-96 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also traditionally works with a curveball, cutter, and changeup.
When the time comes for the Red Sox to activate Paxton, they will presumably need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster since he has been on the 60-day injured list since March.
(Picture of James Paxton: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)