His injury will lower his price tag
As I just mentioned Paxton only pitched 5 games in 2020 due to injury as he had a microscopic lumbar discectomy to remove a peridiscal cyst in February and then had a grade 1 flexor strain that kept him out all of September and the Playoffs. So, he went into summer camp off of surgery and then only was able to get in a month before missing the rest of the season.
This will obviously lower his price tag as teams will be hesitant to throw a ton of money at a soon to be 32 year old. However, his agent is Scott Boras, who doesn’t really deal in the realm of lowering price tags. Boras said that Paxton now feels like his 2019 self and just needed more time to recover from his back surgery. It is also reasonable to believe that Paxton did not want to rush himself back from an injury to his pitching arm when he is set to hit the open market.
So because of all of this, the Mariners could take a risk that other teams will not take, and trust Boras while trying to lure Paxton back to Seattle for a deal that he would not have signed after 2019, but is better than other offers. A deal for 2 years at less than $20 million per year could be possible, and the Mariners should definitely consider it if they can get the price down that low.