Hitting the open market as a free agent for the first time in his career, James Paxton admits that it was an interesting experience but also nerve-racking at the same time.
Appearing on The Scott Rintoul Show on Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday, Paxton said he expected to receive more offers than he did before ultimately deciding to rejoin the Seattle Mariners on a one-year deal.
“A lot quieter than I thought it was gonna be. There really weren’t too many talks,” Paxton said. “Just a lot of feelers out there with teams saying that they had interest but no contract offers came until right at the end.”
The Toronto Blue Jays were one of the teams that reached out to the Ladner, B.C., native but the conversations never reached a point to where a formal offer was made.
“Well, they showed lots of interest, you know, and I had interest in them too,” Paxton explained. “But they never did actually come with an offer. So we just never got to that point in the negotiations.”
The six-foot-four, 227-pound pitcher struggled through injuries in 2020 — his second season with the New York Yankees after being acquired in a 2018 trade with the Seattle Mariners. The 32-year-old went 1-1 in five games with a 6.64 ERA.
This was a marked departure from his first season with the Yankees when he racked up a 15-6 record with a 3.82 ERA and 186 strikeouts across 150.2 innings. He admits that recovering from back surgery took a toll on him last year and he spent most of this past off-season working on his mechanics and getting his strength back.
Returning to Seattle, Paxton admits he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove that he can still produce at the level he knows he is capable of.
“If I go out there and I stay healthy, make all my starts and get back to throwing the velocity that I normally throw with and just throw the ball the way I want to, obviously, I can’t control the results, but I’ve done a lot of work getting ready for the season,” Paxton said. “I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. And I’m ready to go out there and compete.”