Paxton accepts the meeting of the Mariners (source)


SEATTLE – The Big Maple returns to the Mariners. James Paxton agreed to the terms of a one-year contract with Seattle for the 2021 season pending a physical, a source told MLB.com on Saturday. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Paxton, who was drafted by Seattle and spent six seasons with Seattle from 2013 to 2018, will earn $ 8.5 million in salary, with performance incentives that could bring his contract to $ 10 million depending on the number of games he pitches, a source told. MLB.com. Mark Feinsand. That makes the deal a big win for both parties in many ways.

Here’s Paxton’s reason: Despite all his accolades as a top-flight starter, the 32-year-old has battled major injuries throughout his eight-year career, including a left flexor strain last season and a back surgery. last February. A one-year contract allows you to restore your value and re-enter the market the next offseason with the opportunity for a longer, richer contract if you can show that you are healthy and efficient.

And for the Mariners: They get a big bullish arm that can potentially eat up some much-needed innings and a bridge to their younger arms, who will have workload limitations and the burden of returning to a 162-game season. They also bring in a veteran who has since gained postseason experience while pitching for the Yankees, valuable veteran experience that could be huge for his young core.

The Mariners have had their eyes on Paxton throughout the offseason, and were among 20 clubs that saw the southpaw throw a bullpen session in Bellevue, Washington, around Thanksgiving, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com. . Paxton, who averaged 92.1 mph on his fastball in 2020, compared to 95.4 mph in ’19, was hitting 94 mph that day. He also attracted interest this offseason from the Blue Jays, and was linked to the Phillies, Cardinals and Mets.

Paxton should rank No. 2 in the Mariners’ rotation, behind Marco Gonzales and ahead of Justus Sheffield, who was the prized comeback in the same trade that sent Paxton to the Yanks in November 2018. That deal from many ways brought about change. The Mariners’ current rebuild, as it was GM Jerry Dipoto’s first major trade in what has since been called the “throwback” offseason.

After Paxton’s dominoes fell, Seattle traded Edwin Díaz and Robinson Canó to the Mets in a box office success that brought back No. 1 prospect Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, who will enter camp competing for a back spot. -end in Seattle’s rotation, which the front office has said will feature six pitchers instead of the standard five. It’s unclear if the Paxton acquisition will affect those plans, but most likely not.

At his best when healthy, Paxton has been one of the best left-handed starters in the American League, with a 3.58 ERA and a 114+ ERA. His pinnacle came on May 8, 2018, when he pitched a no-hitter for the Mariners against the Blue Jays in his hometown of Canada.

But he never pitched more than 160 1/3 innings in a season or reached the plateau of 30 starts, and has been limited to 20 starts or fewer in all but three seasons, including just five in the shortened 2020 campaign. on the disabled list for knee, back, pectoral, elbow and latissimus dorsi injuries since ’14.

That’s why Paxton’s bullpen session in November was significant. Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd, a Seattle-area native who has been training with Paxton this offseason, recently told MLB Network Radio that “whoever catches him will get a steal.”

“And now he’s pumping the ball too,” Boyd said. “It looks better than ever. We dove into a few things, breaking straights and understanding turning direction and all that. Your ball just takes off. It is fun to catch. … Whoever gets it will get an ace. “

Paxton marks Seattle’s second significant acquisition this week, after the club agreed to terms with closer Ken Giles on Thursday. Giles is recovering from Tommy John’s surgery in October, which will keep him out of the game for all of 2021. But Saturday’s move is much more for now, and it’s another sign that the Mariners are Trying to step forward

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