Scott Boras is out on the campaign trail to shill for his clients in the early days of free agency. Boras is the most famous agent in the game, and one of the best in the business at making sure his clients get paid. He’s a salesman, and salesmen gotta sell.
Boras tells MLB Network’s Jon Morosi that James Paxton will soon throw for talent evaluators. Morosi reports (via Twitter) that Paxton has been working to strengthen his “lumbar region” after back surgery in February. Morosi also notes that Boras says, “There’s a great deal of interest in [Paxton].”
There’s sure to be interest in Paxton as a former front-line southpaw potentially signable on a short-term prove-it-type deal coming off a season lost to injury. 2020 was a tough year for The Big Maple, who in 5 starts went 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA, though a 4.37 FIP suggests more time on the diamond might have stabilized that bloated ERA. In his first year with the Yankees, Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA/3.86 FIP across 150 2/3 innings, which more closely matches the kind of production we’ve come to expect from Paxton. Health – or lack thereof – is Paxton’s Achilles heel. The 32-year-old has never thrown more than 161 innings while averaging just 142 innings per season from 2016 to 2019. In today’s day and age, however, that kind of volume isn’t likely to bother teams as much as it might have in the past.
Elsewhere on the free agency campaign trail, former Astros and Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez is showing off his high-spin fastball for a number of teams this winter, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Boras, who reps Sanchez, predicts unequivocally that Sanchez will be a starting pitcher in 2021. In October, MLBTR’s Anthony Franco wrote about Sanchez throwing for about 20 teams, which was the first we’d seen of him since missing all of 2020 after undergoing surgery to address a tear in his right shoulder capsule. The possibility of Sanchez out of the bullpen was an intriguing idea, but Boras is attempting to quash that idea.
When Houston acquired Sanchez before the 2019 trade deadline, the pairing seemed like a good fit because of a high-spin hook – and high spin rates being somewhat of a specialty for the Astros. Sanchez’s curve ranked in the 91st percentile for spin rate. In his first start, in fact, Sanchez threw 6 hit-less innings as part of a 4-man no-hitter against the Mariners. Unfortunately, injuries ended his season after just 4 starts with Houston. The 28-year-old has a career record of 34-33 across 150 appearances (96 starts) totaling 589 ⅔ innings with a 3.98 ERA/4.40 FIP, 1.81 K/BB rate, and 9.0 career rWAR.