When the Nationals declined the option on Anibal Sanchez, needing a suitable arm to replace him became apparent. Joe Ross will be back, after opting out of the 2020 season, though after not throwing live action for a year we are not sure what production he will offer.
James Paxton could be a potential fit, as early projections have him signing a one-year contract. The Nationals will hopefully have Jackson Rutledge at their disposal to plug into the back of the rotation beginning in 2022.
Paxton had a nice 2019 season with the New York Yankees when he went 15-6 with a 3.82 earned run average. Diminished velocity hampered him in the early going of 2020 as Paxton got off to a brutal start. He allowed exactly three earned runs in all five of his starts, though was only able to pitch past the fifth inning in one of them.
Diagnosed with a strain of his left flexor tendon, he was put on the shelf in mid-August, never to return to the mound again. Multiple setbacks in his throwing program prolonged the recovery and sent him into the offseason one big question mark.
Paxton could be okay, and I am sure his medicals will be looked over with a fine tooth comb before he is signed. I’ll reference Cole Hamels’ 1 YR/$18M signing last year, as well as the Trevor Rosenthal returning from Tommy John surgery, as two instances of teams getting raw deals from injured pitchers.
I like James Paxton. I hope he lands somewhere and pitches well. This lingering injury issue has me saying to the Nationals, buyer beware.