Seattle Mariners and James Paxton agree to 1-year, $ 8.5 million deal


Left-hander James Paxton returns to the Seattle Mariners after an injury-filled second season with the New York Yankees.

Paxton and the Mariners agree to a one-year, $ 8.5 million deal, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Saturday. The contract includes achievable bonuses that could take its value up to $ 10 million, the sources said.

Paxton, 32, was 41-26 with a 3.42 ERA for the Mariners from 2013 to 2018, striking out 617 and walking 168 in 582⅓ innings. He was traded to the Yankees in November 2018 for a top prospect, left-hander Justus Sheffield, along with outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams and right-hander Erik Swanson.

The Mariners were hopeful that when Paxton was traded there might be a future reunion with the native of nearby Ladner, British Columbia.

Paxton struggled in the first half of his first season in New York, rediscovered his broken ball in the second half and was 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He won the top 10 consecutive career starts before leaving his final regular season start after an inning on September 27, 2019.

The Yankees said he had a tight left glute muscle, and was again 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in three postseason starts, allowing five runs in 13 innings. But he needed surgery in February 2020, when Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas performed a microscopic lumbar discectomy to repair a herniated disc and remove a peridiscal cyst.

Paxton was able to start the season on time when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay until late July, but he was 2-3 with a 6.64 ERA in five starts. He didn’t pitch after Aug. 20 after suffering what the Yankees said was a mild flexor strain in his left forearm.

The Yankees let Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and JA Happ go as free agents, replacing them with Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon.

Paxton was a fan favorite during his first season in Seattle. His best seasons came in 2017 and 2018, when he was 23-11 with a 3.40 ERA and pitched the only no-hitter of his career in May 2018 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Paxton plans to join an initially projected rotation to include Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Sheffield and Justin Dunn. After finishing third in the American League West at 27-33, Seattle previously added right-hander Chris Flexen, agreeing to a two-year, $ 4.75 million contract.

Seattle is expected to use a six-man rotation, which would likely take about five starts from each pitcher in the rotation. The addition of Paxton will likely move Nick Margevicius into a bullpen role.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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