With former Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber struggling, but that won’t discourage the red-hot Boston Red Sox from activating another ex-Bombers starter: James Paxton, who is on the verge of his first major league game in more than two years, will join the team this week, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Saturday.
Paxton, 34, won’t start during a two-game series with the Braves on Tuesday and Wednesday, but he’s likely to pitch during a three-game series against the Cardinals from May 12-14.
Paxton underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2021 while with the Mariners, but the Red Sox took a a gamble and signed him as a free agent during the 2021-22 offseason.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, that contract contained a pair of club options (each worth $13M) for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, but also a $4M player option Paxton could exercise if the Sox declined those club options. With Paxton missing the entire 2022 season because of his Tommy John rehab and a lat tear, the Red Sox declined its club options, and Paxton triggered his $4M option to ultimately make his deal a two-year, $10M pact overall.
Paxton was 1-1 with a 6.65 ERA in six major league starts from 2020-21 with the Yankees and Mariners. He was 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts for the Yankees in 2019.
Pitching at Triple-A Worcester during his rehab, Paxton has a 6.23 ERA over 21.2 innings, largely due to an outing in which he was hammered for seven runs in two-thirds of an inning. In his last two rehab starts, Paxton allowed two runs over 10.1 total innings, and he topped the 90-pitch threshold in both games.
The Red Sox, who don’t play on Monday or Thursday, have off-days on May 18, 25, and 29. Cora said the Sox are considering the possibility of a six-man rotation to accommodate a full rotation, though the upcoming off-days could lead to extended time between starts if the Red Sox try a larger rotation.