Boston Red Sox trade target: James Paxton


The Red Sox have a well-documented need for starting pitchers and, with the team looking more and more likely to sign third baseman Pablo Sandoval to a significant contract, the BoSox may not have sufficient funds to sign two big-name free agent starters. With that in mind, Boston could look to the trade target to patch the holes in their starting five and Seattle’s James Paxton is an intriguing name if the Red Sox go down that route.

The Canadian-born Paxton was a top prospect for the Mariners before breaking into the majors with a strong cup of coffee in 2013, in which he posted a 1.50 ERA and went 3-0 in four starts. Paxton followed that debut with a solid, though injury-riddled, 2014 season which saw him go 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA, accompanied by an decent 3.28 FIP, 7.2 K/9, and 3.5 BB/9 in 13 starts for the M’s.

He’s far from the biggest name on the list of Red Sox targets but there are a numbers of points in his favor. The first of those factors is his age and remaining team control; the 26-year old Paxton does not become a free agent until after the 2019 season, which could allow him to anchor the Red Sox’ rotation for years to come. In addition, he’s a hard-throwing left-hander and, if he can cut down on the walks with a slight uptick in strikeouts, there’s little doubt that Paxton has the stuff to be a frontline starter in the league.

With so much hope for Paxton’s future, it’s difficult to see why the Mariners would be interested in trading him. However, the Mariners currently have a solid rotation anchored by Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and top prospect Taijaun Walker while they are severely lacking in offensive production, particularly in the outfield.

Given that the outfield is an area of depth for the Red Sox, it’s likely that the Red Sox and Mariners could work out a swap of Paxton and Yoenis Cespedes, whom the Red Sox received at the 2014 Trade Deadline. While Cespedes brings plenty of power to Boston’s outfield, there are concerns over his attitude, defense, and low on-base percentage; plus, he becomes a free agent after the upcoming season.

Still, Cespedes’s elite right-handed power would be a big boost to the Mariners’ lineup and could very well place them in postseason contention next season. In return, Paxton would give a young, affordable southpaw that can contribute as a mid-rotation guy right off the bat, with the potential to develop into a top-rotation starter. It’s a deal that makes sense for both sides as Paxton would fill a major hole as Boston’s #2 starter and the Red Sox should absolutely jump on such a deal if it presents itself.