James Paxton
Don’t listen to the critics. Chaim Bloom is winning this offseason. Signing James Paxton was an incredibly smart gamble by the Red Sox. (Ben Margot / AP)

The Red Sox Made An Incredibly Smart Gamble Signing James Paxton

Baseball fans always have the same reaction to things. They beg their team to overspend when the reality is that’s really not the correct approach. The difference between small and big markets are always thought of in incorrect terms. The advantage big markets have is the ability to retain home grown talent, ability to eat bad contracts to absorb prospects, and having the option to take calculated risks like James Paxton that smaller clubs can’t. Throwing stupid money at your problems doesn’t fix them.

Fans can whine and bitch about the Red Sox bargain hunting on the free agent market, but the reality of the situation is historically handing significantly more money to guys like Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman, or Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t a smarter alternative. Those contracts turn into Homer Bailey, Kevin Brown, and Mike Hampton more often than they work.

Finding those bargain contracts while using the additional resources on true aircraft carriers that can truly change the outlook on the ball club is how you win titles. Imagine if James Paxton is healthy? If he’s not, you’re out $10 million and you go search for his replacement at the trade deadline. That’s how you thrive as a big market club.

It’s hard not to love this gamble by Chaim Bloom. Paxton signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox for $10 million. The deal also includes a TWO year team option that can extend the deal into a three year pact for $35 million. Paxton is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery but should be back for the second half of the season.

This is really a win-win for the club and the player. Scott Boras got his client guaranteed money to not play for several months. The club was able to secure a capable starting pitcher in a market place where the demand markedly outweighs the supply to a team friendly deal should Paxton perform well post rehab.

The truth of the matter is, Paxton is a two or three level impact starter. Paxton pitched to a 3.54 ERA over 447 innings between 2017-19. That also includes an absurd 30.1% strikeout rate. That’s a guy you have no problem handing the baseball to in October.

Paxton, often referred to as Big Maple, is a four pitch guy featuring fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup. When he’s on, Paxton is a tough guy to pick up from the left side with his 6-foot-4 frame. It’s why the strikeout rate is always near the top of the league. At 33 years old, Paxton should have some juice left in the tank when he recovers.

Sure, Paxton has been hurt quite frequently during his big league career. Again, where is the risk? The Sox are going to exceed the luxury tax threshold in 2022 (and likely will do so regardless of the new rules). If it doesn’t work, you’re out $10 million. If it works, you secure a capable starter for the cheap. Isn’t that a better alternative than handing high dollars to keep Rodriguez who you never really feel confident about anyway?

It’s hard not to love the Chaim Bloom offseason so far. Regardless, who cares if you agree or disagree with his moves. I’m sure the Michael Wacha decision wasn’t met with a ton of excitement either. Outside of the Andrew Benintendi trade (which Bloom deserved to be blasted for) the guy has basically been perfect. If Paxton rebounds, Bloom will once again look like a genius as he continues to steer the Red Sox towards another championship.

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