Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Left-handed starting pitcher James Paxton has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year, free-agent contract worth $11 million, CBS Sports HQ insider Jim Bowden confirmed. Paxton will receive, among other incentive opportunities, a $1 million bonus if he makes the Dodgers’ active roster for Opening Day. 

Paxton, 35, has had a handful of productive seasons in his 10-year MLB career, though a litany of injuries and two surgeries — including Tommy John — have caused him to miss a lot of time. He’s never made 30 starts in a season and has topped 25 just twice.

Last season marked his return from the aforementioned Tommy John surgery. He joined the Red Sox’s rotation on May 12 and made 19 starts, going 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA (101 ERA+), 1.31 WHIP and 101 strikeouts against 33 walks in 96 innings. The home run and walk totals were high and the strikeout rate was much lower than it had been previously in his career. 

Still, the 2024 season will mark Paxton’s second coming off major surgery and that bodes well for his chances in a nice bounce back. There was once thought to be ace upside in Paxton and that’s gone now at his age, but it’s reasonable to believe he has a chance to put together a season like he did with the Yankees in 2019 (3.82 ERA, 116 ERA+, 186 K in 150 2/3 IP). 

From that perspective, slotting Paxton as a fourth or fifth starter in a rotation isn’t a bad idea at all. Speaking of which, the Dodgers’ current rotation is fronted by the recently signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto; Walker Buehler, who’s returning from Tommy John surgery; and trade acquisition Tyler Glasnow. Paxton figures to line up behind that trio along with promising youngster Bobby Miller. 

The Paxton addition is the latest by a Dodgers club that earlier this offseason added superstar Shohei Ohtani, Yamamoto, Glasnow, and outfielder Teoscar Hernández. Those additions in tandem with an already star-packed roster have made the Dodgers consensus preseason favorites to win the World Series in 2024. 

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