Red Sox News: Free agency buzz on James Paxton and Jorge Soler

The AL East is heating up and the Red Sox's rivals are getting in on the free agency excitement.

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

Besides the New York Yankees' trades for Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo as well as their signing of Marcus Stroman, the AL East has been a wasteland this offseason. The Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays have made no significant moves to help their teams this winter.

Recently, though, rumors have suggested two AL East rivals are interested in some of the same players the Red Sox have been eyeing.

The Baltimore Orioles have surfaced as a real threat in the AL East in 2023. With a team full of top prospects, all the O's need to do in order to become a bonafide World Series contender is to bolster their starting rotation. James Paxton has emerged as one of Baltimore's top choices.

Paxton is a veteran left-hander with a lot of big-league experience that could help the Orioles' rotation succeed in a competitive division and beyond. He made his debut in the Red Sox lineup in mid-May after missing the beginning of the 2023 season due to Tommy John surgery recovery.

Red Sox News: Updates on James Paxton and Jorge Soler

Paxton has a career 3.69 ERA. He recorded 101 strikeouts in 96 innings in Boston. He let up 18 home runs and 48 earned runs over his abbreviated season, but showed flashes of competence. Remember, once upon a time he was considered an ace-like talent.

A reunion between Paxton and the Red Sox seems unlikely, but Boston is running out of choices to make its rotation better. Signing Paxton would keep the rotation in the same state it was in 2023, but at least the Sox would be approaching a complete rotation instead of three-fifths of one.

The Red Sox have also publicly targeted slugger Jorge Soler. The veteran outfielder would add right-handed power that Boston desperately needs in its batting order.

But the Sox aren't alone in their pursuit of Soler. The Blue Jays have been listed among the most likely teams to land the outfielder, per MLB insider Jon Heyman. Also, conflicting reports have emerged about Boston's likelihood to sign the 31-year-old — Héctor Gómez has reported the Red Sox are now "likely to be outbid" for Soler's services.

Soler had a great year with the Marlins in 2023 and the Jays need power in their batting order as much as anyone in the league. Soler appeared in 137 games with the Fish and mashed 36 homers to secure his first-career All-Star nomination.

The big-spending Mets are also reportedly interested in Soler, which will be a colossal obstancle for the Sox from a financial perspective.

If Boston is out-bid for Soler, it may be a turning point for many fans, if they haven't tuned out already. Of the teams interested, the Red Sox have been "in" (yup, we've heard that one before!) on Soler the longest and he makes too much sense for their lineup. Soler drilling homers over the Monster near the top of the order should be too good for ownership to pass up on.

If Boston loses out on another attainable free-agent target, especially to an AL East rival, it may be time to brand the 2024 season as a lost cause.

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