Red Sox sign James Paxton (old thread)

Petagine in a Bottle

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I think pitching is clearly the likeliest problem area for this team. Going into the year, seemed like the team was really going to need a lot out of Sale, Whitlock, Houck, and Barnes. Sale is hurt and there are concerns about Barnes. Not clear yet where Whitlock and Houck land, but I’d suspect in the rotation before long. Enough interesting arms on the staff to think they can piece it a long until reinforcements arrive, but the pitching does look more than a little iffy.
 

YTF

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It’s the 3rd of April, there’s no baseball yet, and we are already reduced to wondering which of two long term injured starters (who really weren't that good recently when healthy) is going to return before Memorial Day.

Wow. Hard to remember a recent season that started as bleakly as this.
I get the angst, but in fairness has either been recently healthy?
 

streeter88

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Just very little SP depth after Eovaldi and Pivetta. Houck is unproven and Wacha has contributed 0.1 WAR over the past 4 seasons combined. And Hill is 42. Yeesh.

If Sale and Paxton were to come back and be league average effective or better, then great. But Sale has shown since 2019 to be made of glass. He broke a rib throwing FFS.

May be hope for Paxton as he was really good in 2019, but that’s a June hope. At least 20 Wacha / Hill starts between now and then. That’s bleak.

On the bright side, there’s plenty of arms in the bullpen.
 

Rovin Romine

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Just very little SP depth after Eovaldi and Pivetta. Houck is unproven and Wacha has contributed 0.1 WAR over the past 4 seasons combined. And Hill is 42. Yeesh.

If Sale and Paxton were to come back and be league average effective or better, then great. But Sale has shown since 2019 to be made of glass. He broke a rib throwing FFS.

May be hope for Paxton as he was really good in 2019, but that’s a June hope. At least 20 Wacha / Hill starts between now and then. That’s bleak.

On the bright side, there’s plenty of arms in the bullpen.
I think you're conflating lack of depth with volatility. You're also discounting how the Sox are likely to use their starting pitchers. (Which is likely to be only a couple of times through the order, considering their bullpen acquisition choices.)

Eovaldi, Pivetta, Houck, Wacha, Hill, with Sale in a month, and Paxton in June. Plus any AAA callups like Seabold.

The worst case is everyone is injured/ineffective right away and they blow the season in the first month.

The best case is everyone is effective, or effective enough to transition Sale and Paxton back in. A best case post-season rotation would be Eovaldi, Sale, Paxton, and a Houck that can go 6-7 if needed.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I’ll happily take 10 games off 1st place team at the end of June if both Sale and Paxton are fully available at that point
 

A Bad Man

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SEATTLE — Red Sox starter James Paxton threw a bullpen session Saturday here at T-Mobile Park.

“I saw it. Very excited. It was really good,” manager Alex Cora said.

 

joe dokes

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So what's the timeline on these two? ASB?
Sale seems quite a bit further along.
Pete Abraham's guess (which I cant find now) is just before or just after ASB for Sale, who looks to be one BP session short of pitching in minor league games..

Paxton:
James Paxton
threw 17 pitches during a bullpen session Wednesday — all fastballs. “Obviously, I’ve got more bullpens to go and a long way to go still, but I’m happy with the direction right now,” said Paxton, who had a setback last month during his rehab and grew frustrated when his progression was stalled.
Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story aiming to get his swing in synch - The Boston Globe
 

Ale Xander

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If everyone is healthy who joins Whitlock and Houck in the bullpen in August? Hill, right?

Sale
Eovaldi
Pivetta
Wacha
Paxton
Hill

That's 6
(You can't have too much pitching, yadda, yadda)
 

joe dokes

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If everyone is healthy who joins Whitlock and Houck in the bullpen in August? Hill, right?

Sale
Eovaldi
Pivetta
Wacha
Paxton
Hill

That's 6
(You can't have too much pitching, yadda, yadda)
It's an interesting conversation, but these things almost always take care of themselves.
 

A Bad Man

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I did some loose research on post-op throwing programs. If we stitch Paxton's bullpen yesterday into these programs, it looks as if Paxton is about eight weeks from a rehab assignment, which would put him back in the Sox rotation in early September. Now, these programs are for pitchers much closer to their operations, and so extrapolating from them given Paxton's setback could be pure folly. An exercise for idle minds at least.

One program is from Keith Meister, the Rangers head physician since 2004. The other is from someone less legit, but is similar to the first.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Have the rules changed about roster spots for post-season eligibility or does his DL status insure he could join the team for playoffs regardless of when he is activated?
Any player in the organization before September 1 is eligible, whether they're on the 40-man, IL, or in the minors. The only catch with the minor leaguers is they would have to be replacing an otherwise eligible player who is on the injured list. The only players not eligible are ones who are acquired by the team after midnight 8/31. Jose Iglesias last year being a prime example.
 

chawson

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The Red Sox lead baseball in ERA and starters’ ERA so far in June, with 3 starts from Pivetta, 2 from Eovaldi, Hill, Wacha and Whitlock, and 1 apiece from Crawford and Winckowski. And with a bullpen headed by Tanner Houck, Matt Strahm and John Schreiber. Imagine being told that would be the case at any point in the last three years.
 

A Bad Man

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Paxton “feeling great”

Cora said James Paxton is “feeling great” Sunday after he threw his third bullpen session Saturday.

Cora said Paxton has either two or three bullpen sessions scheduled for this week.

“He’s excited and jealous from seeing JT throwing yesterday so he’s getting the itch, which is great,” Cora said.
 

A Bad Man

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A July 9th AP article in the WaPo mentioned that Paxton had progressed to throwing breaking pitches on flat ground; if we align this with the first of the aforementioned throwing programs, that would put Paxton at four weeks from a rehab assignment (given one week off for the ASB); assuming a similar rehab to Sale (5 starts, no setbacks), that would have Paxton eight weeks from making his first start of the season.

Note that this timeline also aligns with Paxton's hope of throwing live BP the week before or after the ASB (after the ASB, in this case).

All this being said, Paxton is still on target for an early September return, potentially @TB (9/5-9/7) or @BAL (9/9-9/11).
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Which likely means, what, 4-5 starts, tops? Will be interesting to see how he’s used, seems likely to depend on the state of the rotation and the playoff race. Not a given that they will have a spot for him (and that wouldn’t be a terrible thing).
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Which likely means, what, 4-5 starts, tops? Will be interesting to see how he’s used, seems likely to depend on the state of the rotation and the playoff race. Not a given that they will have a spot for him (and that wouldn’t be a terrible thing).
Certainly might depend on the state of the rotation, but what about a Whitlock style role? After all, that's how they eased Whitlock back from Tommy John. Maybe 2-3 innings every 3-4 days, particularly if they've got Whitlock in a similar role, could at the very least be useful in a don't-blow-out-the-best-guys sort of way. The less they have to abuse the Schreiber-Houck combo (plus whoever else might be a key guy) down the stretch, the more effective they're likely to be. That's something that could more easily be done once rosters expand to 28 and they've got the extra spot in the bullpen.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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We all know how different playoff pitching is from the regular season. He could easily become a once through the lineup out of the bullpen guy (which could happen anywhere from innings 2 to 8 in the modern game).
 

jon abbey

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Paxton has zero experience coming out of the bullpen in the majors, that seems very risky to me.
 

StuckOnYouk

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Keep in mind Bloom probably signed Paxton more for 2023 and 2024 when he could give them two fully healthy seasons at relatively low money.
Anything he gives them this year is a blessing and I’m not sure they would risk his health by pulling him into routines he’s not used to….as JA mentioned
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Paxton has zero experience coming out of the bullpen in the majors, that seems very risky to me.
My expectation if they use him out of the pen is that he'll only be entering clean innings with plenty of warm-up, so it won't really be like a true reliever. Just a delayed starter.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Keep in mind Bloom probably signed Paxton more for 2023 and 2024 when he could give them two fully healthy seasons at relatively low money.
Anything he gives them this year is a blessing and I’m not sure they would risk his health by pulling him into routines he’s not used to….as JA mentioned
But they're going to want to see how he does against major leaguers before committing another $22 million by picking up the option on him. The utility of taking him for a test drive might in September might not coincide with the need to win baseball games to make the playoffs.

"Anything he gives them is a blessing" is only true if he's not terrible. If he pitches poorly, it will be curse, not a blessing.
 

rmurph3

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If he pitches poorly, it will be curse, not a blessing.
His track record says that should be less of a concern. He's either been good, or hurt. Career ERA from 2013-19 of 3.50, not a single season in there over 4.00. His IP totals in those years are all over the place, but the results are not.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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His track record says that should be less of a concern. He's either been good, or hurt. Career ERA from 2013-19 of 3.50, not a single season in there over 4.00. His IP totals in those years are all over the place, but the results are not.
But careers end because players who used to be good become bad. And players who get hurt a lot tend to become bad because of getting hurt. Maybe Paxton will pitch the way he always has, but there's no guarantee.
 

nvalvo

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Paxton has zero experience coming out of the bullpen in the majors, that seems very risky to me.
If it involves changing someone's role in a meaningful way without adequate preparation, that makes it a near certainty that Boston will pursue that path.
 

rmurph3

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But careers end because players who used to be good become bad. And players who get hurt a lot tend to become bad because of getting hurt. Maybe Paxton will pitch the way he always has, but there's no guarantee.
Agreed, which is why I said "less of a concern" and not "I'm totally unconcerned".
 

Apisith

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Man, spending $10m to get 4-5 starts is a bit crazy, no? It will look like an even worse decision if Paxton can't get a feel for his breaking pitches like Sale last year because then we won't even know enough to commit to the 2 extra option years. He throws a 4-seamer, a cutter and a curve. If he can't get a feel for the curve, he's going to get his hard.
 

bosockboy

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Man, spending $10m to get 4-5 starts is a bit crazy, no? It will look like an even worse decision if Paxton can't get a feel for his breaking pitches like Sale last year because then we won't even know enough to commit to the 2 extra option years. He throws a 4-seamer, a cutter and a curve. If he can't get a feel for the curve, he's going to get his hard.
He was signed for 2023. Anything this year is probably considered gravy.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It’s a weird thing. They likely won’t learn much about him this year, and then will be faced with guaranteeing him 2/$26, or letting him go. Seems like a great deal for Boras. I guess if Paxton comes back and dominates in September, there’s some upside, so let’s hope that happens.
 
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Apisith

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The chance of getting surplus value from this contract seems low to me. If we take up the two-year option, we'll essentially pay him $18m/year for two years of production, since we're getting less than a month's worth of production this year. Based on a free agency value of $8m/win, we'll need 4.5 wins from those 2 years to 'breakeven'. He's only had two years of >2.2 wins, and that was before 2 major injuries.
 

chawson

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The chance of getting surplus value from this contract seems low to me. If we take up the two-year option, we'll essentially pay him $18m/year for two years of production, since we're getting less than a month's worth of production this year. Based on a free agency value of $8m/win, we'll need 4.5 wins from those 2 years to 'breakeven'. He's only had two years of >2.2 wins, and that was before 2 major injuries.
Could be my error but I’m seeing different math here. Wouldn’t we be “essentially paying him” $32M total ($13M/yr x 2 + $6M guaranteed in 2022)? So that’s a 2/$32M contract for 23-24 plus whatever he gives us in September and postseason this year. If he hits each of his performance bonuses in 23-24, that’s an extra $1M per year (so 2/$34M), but if that happens I’m sure we aren’t complaining.

We’ll see what he’s still got but I’m optimistic about Paxton. It’s an interesting gamble given our difficulties attracting top-shelf starters, and it’s meaningless money in any real terms.
 

nvalvo

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The chance of getting surplus value from this contract seems low to me. If we take up the two-year option, we'll essentially pay him $18m/year for two years of production, since we're getting less than a month's worth of production this year. Based on a free agency value of $8m/win, we'll need 4.5 wins from those 2 years to 'breakeven'. He's only had two years of >2.2 wins, and that was before 2 major injuries.
This is one of those situations where we learn whether the Red Sox FO thinks more like fWAR (FIP * IP) or more like rWAR (RA9 * IP) for pitching purposes: Paxton has like a 50% difference between his 17.5 career fWAR and 12.6 career rWAR. Where you stand on that bears on how likely you think he is to post say >4.5 WAR in '23 and '24.
 

Rovin Romine

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The chance of getting surplus value from this contract seems low to me. If we take up the two-year option, we'll essentially pay him $18m/year for two years of production, since we're getting less than a month's worth of production this year. Based on a free agency value of $8m/win, we'll need 4.5 wins from those 2 years to 'breakeven'. He's only had two years of >2.2 wins, and that was before 2 major injuries.
It's kind of a show-me contract:
Sox pay $6m to rehab him this year and get an insider's view on how he is actually doing, plus any actual value from MLB starts.​
Outcomes:​
If he looks like a good bet for 2023-4, Sox use their option to pay $13m per year, up to $14m per year based on bonuses/escalators.​
If he looks bad and the Sox cut bait (essentially announcing that to everyone) he can:​
1) hit the FA market (which includes essentially extending/renegotiating the deal with the Sox prior to going on the market) or
2) rehab with the Sox in 2023 for a $4m player option.​

A lot depends on how the Sox evaluate Paxton's injury chances and value wins/FA starters for 2023 and 2024. I read this as:

The worst case for the Sox is that he looks good this year, the Sox use the option, and his arm blows up again, taking him out of play for 2023-4. That's $6/13/13 for a total of $32m for a handful of good starts this year. Lux tax would be 6/13/13. Essentially Chris Sale Lite.​
The second-worst case is that he never gets off the ground and exercises the player option for 2023. That's $6/4 for nothing, but the lux tax would also be a paltry $6/4.​
The third worst (maybe second) is he gives us a handful of "illusory" good starts this year, the club uses its option, and he's later partially injured or ineffective. But this seems unlikely as they'd have an insider's view on the medical and actual rehab results, including velocity loss/control loss, etc.​
From there it's all reasonable-to-good outcomes, with a "reasonable-but-not-fan-boi-best-case" scenario of getting 20+ starts out of Paxton at a better-than-average ERA. Which he did during the 4 years from 2016-2019, prior to his injury problems. He'll likely have to be managed, but that seems to be a great value at $13/14m for 2 seasons. And those seasons should be a good contention window with the younger players on the way up. Total cost would be $6/13/13 for a handful of good starts in 2022, plus 20 starts in 2023 and 20 in 2024. Lux tax would be 6/13/13.​
If we're in the truly excellent outcome zone where bonuses and escalators kick in, $6/14/14. . .and I think we have to assume at least 20 starts.​
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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What if he only has a few major leoutings this year and / or they don’t go well? Then you have to decide whether he’s worth 2/$26 which seems to be way more than players coming off three years of injury and in their early to mid 30’s usually get. This doesn’t seem like a far fetched outcome.

I guess, in theory, spending $6M to potentially get a good deal isn’t the worst thing, but for a team already spending a large % of their budget in Sale, Price, and Bradley; it seems like this was another inefficient use of resources, at least as it relates to this years team.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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What if he only has a few major leoutings this year and / or they don’t go well? Then you have to decide whether he’s worth 2/$26 which seems to be way more than players coming off three years of injury and in their early to mid 30’s usually get. This doesn’t seem like a far fetched outcome.

I guess, in theory, spending $6M to potentially get a good deal isn’t the worst thing, but for a team already spending a large % of their budget in Sale, Price, and Bradley; it seems like this was another inefficient use of resources, at least as it relates to this years team.
Thing is, they're not just going to have just the major league outings to go on when deciding about the option. They're going to have a whole year of having an up close view of his entire recovery process and all the work put in behind the scenes. I know we as fans can only judge based on performance on the field, but the off-field stuff has to have some bearing on their decision making as well.
 

chawson

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What if he only has a few major leoutings this year and / or they don’t go well? Then you have to decide whether he’s worth 2/$26 which seems to be way more than players coming off three years of injury and in their early to mid 30’s usually get. This doesn’t seem like a far fetched outcome.

I guess, in theory, spending $6M to potentially get a good deal isn’t the worst thing, but for a team already spending a large % of their budget in Sale, Price, and Bradley; it seems like this was another inefficient use of resources, at least as it relates to this years team.
But the Sox don't need to count their dollars against the tax in '23-24. They've got an incredible amount of money available, and besides that, the possibility of the international draft should vastly reduce the penalties for exceeding the tax.

2/$26M is also not a ton of money, relatively speaking. The Giants just gave that to Alex Cobb, a roughly comparable SP also a half-decade removed from a full season of excellence, and it's been a nice deal for them.
 

mikcou

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Thing is, they're not just going to have just the major league outings to go on when deciding about the option. They're going to have a whole year of having an up close view of his entire recovery process and all the work put in behind the scenes. I know we as fans can only judge based on performance on the field, but the off-field stuff has to have some bearing on their decision making as well.
It is nice to have the inside knowledge of how the rehab is going and what his throwing has looked like, but I suspect its going to be pretty hard to pick up a 2/26 option for a 34 year old to be if he effectively hasnt pitched in a MLB game since he was 30. I doubt Paxton would get that money on the open market if he doesnt pitch this year (or even if he only has a couple of starts).

The deal always seemed predicated on his rehab going well and timely. It may be going well, but its not been timely - typical timelines have him being ready about now or in the next few weeks and he hasnt even progressed to a full bullpen.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It was incredibly innovative by Boras - getting a team to pay for an injured FA to rehab, and allowed him to coin the term “swellopt”. Although not sure the term has caught on!
 

Rovin Romine

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Thing is, they're not just going to have just the major league outings to go on when deciding about the option. They're going to have a whole year of having an up close view of his entire recovery process and all the work put in behind the scenes. I know we as fans can only judge based on performance on the field, but the off-field stuff has to have some bearing on their decision making as well.
Exactly. This is not a pumped-up exhibition session put on by the rehabbing player's agent. The Sox get to see and chart and graph and measure every pitch, plus review their own MDs/trainers/pitching coaches feedback on how quickly he's recovering and how effective he is.

The deal always seemed predicated on his rehab going well and timely. It may be going well, but its not been timely - typical timelines have him being ready about now or in the next few weeks and he hasnt even progressed to a full bullpen.
There's certainly an outcome where they just don't have enough data to make a well-informed choice. What do you think that is?

Personally, my own wild-ass guess is that the monitored rehab, plus live games in Sept. (and hopefully Oct.) will be enough to have a good basis for their winter decision.


Certainly might depend on the state of the rotation, but what about a Whitlock style role? After all, that's how they eased Whitlock back from Tommy John. Maybe 2-3 innings every 3-4 days, particularly if they've got Whitlock in a similar role, could at the very least be useful in a don't-blow-out-the-best-guys sort of way. The less they have to abuse the Schreiber-Houck combo (plus whoever else might be a key guy) down the stretch, the more effective they're likely to be. That's something that could more easily be done once rosters expand to 28 and they've got the extra spot in the bullpen.
They'd probably just short-starter him paired with a long-inning pitcher to follow - maybe Hill, who he'd be replacing. It all really depends on who is back from injury late in the season:
Sale/Pivetta/Eovaldi/Wacha/Whitlock/Hill/Paxton.

Put one of Whitlock/Wacha in the pen:
Sale/Pivetta/Eovaldi/Wacha/Paxton(Hill)

Or, depending on the 40man crunch and who is/isn't eligible, maybe they just DFA Hill and go with Crawford. There are a lot of moving pieces.
 

nvalvo

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It's not a perfect comp, but what about Carlos Rodón?

He's younger than Paxton at 29 and change, but the mileage is similar: he's had a comparable level of career success and just about as many injuries. Paxton debuted at age 24, has thrown 754 IP and 137 starts across nine seasons at a 114 ERA+; Rodón debuted at 22, has thrown 774 IP and 134 starts and 5 relief appearances across eight seasons at 115 ERA+. FIP likes Paxton better because his walk rate is meaningfully lower; otherwise the two pitchers' peripherals are very similar. Another caveat is that while Paxton's performance when on the field has always been very good, Rodón has been more variable in both directions — he's been terrible, and he's been a top-5 Cy Young vote recipient.

Rodón signed with San Francisco last off season for ~2/$45. He's been tremendous for the Giants.

One way of thinking about our deal with Paxton is that we prepaid $6m and risked $4m more for the opportunity to ink Paxton to a considerably discounted version of that kind of deal.
 

mikcou

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It's not a perfect comp, but what about Carlos Rodón?

He's younger than Paxton at 29 and change, but the mileage is similar: he's had a comparable level of career success and just about as many injuries. Paxton debuted at age 24, has thrown 754 IP and 137 starts across nine seasons at a 114 ERA+; Rodón debuted at 22, has thrown 774 IP and 134 starts and 5 relief appearances across eight seasons at 115 ERA+. FIP likes Paxton better because his walk rate is meaningfully lower; otherwise the two pitchers' peripherals are very similar. Another caveat is that while Paxton's performance when on the field has always been very good, Rodón has been more variable in both directions — he's been terrible, and he's been a top-5 Cy Young vote recipient.

Rodón signed with San Francisco last off season for ~2/$45. He's been tremendous for the Giants.

One way of thinking about our deal with Paxton is that we prepaid $6m and risked $4m more for the opportunity to ink Paxton to a considerably discounted version of that kind of deal.
Rodon was coming of a 130 innings of elite pitching in 2021. Paxton has pitched 25 innings since the start of 2020. At best he'll throw 30 innings this year. Rodon is 29, Paxton will be 34.

I dont see how the two are comparable in any way other than they are both guys who are going to have a discount due to health. The difference in magnitude is such that its not at all reasonably similar.