Will James Paxton actually contribute to Red Sox 2023 season?

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

It's been nearly two year since James Paxton has taken the mound in the big leagues. April 6, 2020 was the last major league game that Paxton threw a pitch. We find ourselves yet again asking when "Big Maple" will join the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox pitching has been trembly to say the least, but in what capacity will Paxton join the Red Sox this season?

Thirteen games into the 2023 season and the Boston Red Sox find themselves 5-8 searching for a bright spot in the starting rotation. The Boston Red Sox signed starting pitcher James Paxton to a one-year deal worth $10 million in December 2021. The lucrative deal included a two-year club option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. The Sox decided to pick up Paxton's 2023 option despite never pitching a game in 2022.

The 34-year-old left-hander started the 2023 season on the IL with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. In 2023, Paxton will earn a $4 million salary yet never throwing a pitch for Boston. He spent the entire 2022 season battling setbacks recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2021.

Prior to his injuries, Paxton had made himself a reliable arm for the Seattle Mariners. Before joining Boston, Paxton spent nine seasons in the majors playing for both the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners. Paxton is mostly known for his time playing with the Seattle Mariners. In Seattle, Paxton took the mound in 103 games recording 619 strikeouts with an ERA of 3.42.

Paxton has spent his time rehabbing with the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate, the Worcester WooSox. Paxton took the mound last Sunday pitching three innings, recording three strikeouts, two walks, and allowing only two hits. Paxton was limited to only 58 pitches but looked sharp reaching a speed of 96.2 MPH and allowing zero runs in his most recent outing.

Paxton is scheduled to start tonight verse the Columbus Clipper in his second rehab assignment of 2023. Despite only one rehab start under his belt, the team looks for Paxton to aim for a higher pitch count in today's matchup.

With Paxton being a ways from joining the Red Sox, what does the team have in mind for his return? In a recent interview, Red Sox manager, Alex Cora was asked what role Paxton will be playing for the Red Sox this season.

""As of now, we're going to stretch Paxton out." "

Alex Cora via MLB.com's Ian Browne

The Boston Red Sox recently called up Garret Whitlock and look to be calling on Brayan Bello to join the 40-man roster soon as well. These call-ups could make things interesting for the decision making for Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Boston's starting pitching has being filled with uncertainty and inconsistency, maybe the team could use a Big Maple debut. With just one rehab start and a second on the way, it's safe to say we could see Paxton finally pitching for the Red Sox in the near future.