Red Sox lose another free agent to Dodgers in what could’ve been affordable deal

Jun 24, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Boston Red Sox pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches against the
Jun 24, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches against the / Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers' payroll just keeps ticking up ... and the Boston Red Sox's keeps falling.

James Paxton and the Dodgers are working towards a one-year deal, per Chad Dey. Jack Harris, the Dodgers beat writer for the LA Times, suggested that the deal will be in the $12 million range.

Yet another pitcher the Red Sox were interested in is off the market. And the deal he's likely to be given is more than reasonable. Boston could have, and probably should have, met Paxton's requirements.

Paxton is coming off a decent season in Boston. He only made 19 appearances after spending some time on the injured list. Paxton's injury history is a bit rocky and concerning. Regardless, he's a consistent strikeout pitcher and a career 3.69 ERA hurler. Paxton's three most recent seasons have been rougher than he's used to, but when he's fully healthy, his arm adds quality and experience to almost any rotation.

If the Red Sox are still looking outside the organization to improve their rotation, their options are quite limited, and the number could shrink by the day. Mike Clevinger, Michael Lorenzen, Hyun Jin Ryu are the best starters that remain on the market. And with Sox pitchers and catchers set to report on Feb. 14, Boston needs to make a choice, fast.

Winter Weekend, the Red Sox's winter fan festival, has left a lot of their options up in the air. Garrett Whitlock's huge physical transformation — which has drawn him comparisons to Jon Lester — could put him at a better place to take on the responsibilities of a starting pitcher. This is Whitlock's first healthy offseason in five years, and with adequate time to prepare, he could slot into the starting rotation nicely.

Not as nicely as a true starter would. But good enough for the Sox this year.

The Dodgers are signing former Red Sox pitcher James Paxton

The Whitlock-Nick-Pivetta starting plan isn't necessary, though. Boston could've brought Paxton back for another year and stayed under the first luxury tax threshold if he was willing to accept the same deal from the Red Sox that he's likely to take from the Dodgers.

But a lot of players probably aren't willing to do so. In their current state, the Red Sox will be lucky to sniff the playoffs — they're coming off two straight last-place seasons in the most competitive division in baseball.

The Dodgers are a different story. They're tired of being booted in the early rounds of the playoffs or losing the World Series. Los Angeles pursued the highest quality talent the free agent market had to offer and brought nearly every top option to its squad.

Any player would accept a reasonable deal from the Dodgers at this point. The chance to play with generational talent on an almost definitely playoff-bound team is too good to pass up, even with a huge offer from the Sox on the table.

The Red Sox wouldn't make a huge offer and there's quite little star power on this current roster. Boston will continue to lose free agents to other, more desirable clubs if it doesn't make a change soon.

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