Mariners Step 2: Sign James Paxton (1yr/$8mil)
Yes, I know what you're thinking. Love the guy, but not again! Hear me out though, as I believe this season and the team is best situated to help Paxton be healthy and successful.
From 2016 to 2019, Paxton was one of the more underrated pitchers in all of baseball, finding tremendous success in Seattle before being traded to the Bronx and nearly helping the Yankees get to the World Series. Like many talented pitchers, the 2020 season and subsequent years have been destroyed by injuries and inconsistency. Even his 2021 return to Seattle was ruined by another season-ending injury.
Fast forward to 2023, and James Paxton looked primed to win Comeback Player of the Year while in Boston. In the first half of the season, he led the Red Sox with a 5-1 record and a 2.73 ERA. With a different injury than in the past (knee issues) Paxton collapsed towards the end of the season, going 2-4 with a 6.98 ERA in his final 9 starts.
I like the idea of bringing the 35-year-old Canadian back home to Seattle because I think it is mutually beneficial for both parties. With Bryce Miller off to San Diego, Seattle has a solid 1-4 rotation with Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, and Bryan Woo. The M's also have Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzalez rejoining the squad in the first few months of the year. By signing Paxton, Seattle gets one of the more experienced and talented #5 starters in the game, and just needs him to stay healthy for the first half of the year. If he can do that, then Seattle could be in a position to run a 6 man rotation going forward, or even move Paxton to the bullpen.
Yes, there's some risk with all three of Ray, Paxton, and Marco (even Woo to an extent), but you'd be loading up enough arms in the stockpile that you could be set and protected after May.
The fans would love it, there's a relationship there. Let's bring the Big Maple home.