The Red Sox are declining the two-year, $26 million club option they hold over James Paxton, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) at the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Monday. The veteran left-hander now has the ability to trigger a $4 million player option for the 2023 season.
Paxton, who turned 34 on Sunday, originally signed a uniquely-structured one-year, $6 million contract with the Red Sox last November. The deal included a dual option for 2022 since the southpaw was still rehabbing from the Tommy John Surgery he underwent that April.
There was optimism that Paxton would be able to return to action before the All-Star break this season. But his recovery was slowed in early May due to posterior elbow soreness. Approximately three months later, he began a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League.
Just two batters into his August 18 start against the FCL Rays at JetBlue Park, however, Paxton was forced to exit the contest with left lat (latissimus dorsi muscle on the back) tightness. That was later diagnosed as a Grade 2 lat tear, which ended Paxton’s season before it really even started.
Given that Paxton has been limited to just 1 1/3 innings pitched with the Mariners since last April, the Red Sox elected to not lock in the Boras Corp. client for $13 million in each of the next two season.
Paxton now has until Tuesday to decide if he will exercise his $4 million player option for the 2023 campaign. If he declines, the British Columbia native will forgo that sum and become a free agent for the second time in as many winters.
(Picture of James Paxton: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)