Dodgers’ amended contract with James Paxton is another loss for Red Sox

It's still the offseason, but somehow the Sox keep losing.
Aug 26, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  Boston Red Sox starting pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches
Aug 26, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox missed out on a deal with Teoscar Hernández because the Los Angeles Dodgers paid more money. It seemed like the Dodgers reveled in their victory.

Starting pitching is Boston's biggest need of the offseason, but the rotation remains in a worse state than it was in 2023. Bringing back James Paxton would've at least made the unit closer to the same. Unfortunately, as they tend to do, the Dodgers got to Paxton first.

On Jan. 22, the news of LA's progress on a deal with the veteran dropped. Later that week, his signing was made official at one year, $13 million. But Paxton's deal has since been restructured in a way that favors the high-spending club.

An "unspecified health concern" has caused the Dodgers to alter Paxton's guaranteed money, according to Fabain Ardaya and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The 35-year-old's guaranteed figure been reduced from $11 million down to $7 million.

The Red Sox missed out on reasonable price for James Paxton after Dodgers deal

The latter years of Paxton's career have been hampered by injuries. His woes predate his time with the Red Sox — the lefty made five appearances with the Yankees in 2020, just one with the Mariners in 2021, and missed the entire 2022 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Paxton began his Red Sox career on the IL with a hamstring strain and he ended his season injured as well.

Paxton's reworked contract appears to be caused by a non-injury-related health issue, although the hurler and his agent did not explicitly detail the cause. The reworked deal also emphasizes Paxton being available to pitch at the start of the season in just a few short weeks.

If Paxton can pitch during the Seoul Series, the Dodgers' opening contest, or the first domestic series against the Cardinals, he'll earn a bonus of $2 million. He can collect a $1 million bonus if he's on the roster by April 15.

It was rumored that Paxton went to the Dodgers because he wished to play on the West Coast, closer to his Washington offseason residence, so the Red Sox may never have had a shot at signing the pitcher in the first place. But finding out LA got Paxton for such a low price and has been able to make the deal even more club-friendly is yet another punch in the face to the Sox from the Dodgers.

Boston likely could've snagged Paxton with a higher deal than the one Los Angeles gave, but it's bold to assume the Red Sox would've made a better offer after seeing what little the front office has done this winter.

Regardless of the front office's financial preferences, it was possible that Boston could've secured a reunion with the pitcher for a reasonable price, and they would've been better off for it — even if there was no guarantee of Paxton being available for the entirety of 2024.

Now, the Red Sox will likely begin the season with three converted relievers in the starting rotation instead of a veteran who's qualified for the job.

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