The New York Mets and Trevor Bauer seem to be playing phone tag based on the latest reports. The race is allegedly down to the Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, but New York is said to have the highest offer. Bauer has yet to accept, and his free agency circus continues. We’re tired of hearing about it, if we’re being honest.
For all the Dodgers fans who would love adding Bauer to the rotation, that’s a valid stance. He’s certainly got high upside (we say that because his shortened Cy Young season was just one of two in which he sported an ERA under 4.00) and he could provide more of a blueprint for the future of LA’s rotation.
On the flip side, you want Justin Turner back, right? Well, if Bauer’s added on the expected high AAV deal that many are anticipating, the Dodgers will blow past the $210 luxury tax threshold and have limited funds (we’d assume) for the fan-favorite third baseman. So why not make a more cost-effective addition on the pitching side and avoid all of the drama that comes with Bauer?
The Dodgers don’t need another ace-caliber pitcher right now. Perhaps another high-upside lefty in the rotation could stand to be more effective. What about James Paxton, folks? His injury history is concerning, but in a year where we can assume most pitchers won’t be reaching the end of the odometer, having a guy like Paxton chipping in some starts would be extremely valuable.
And you want to talk about what he brings to the table? He was among the best lefties in the game just two short years ago, before 2020 really rode him off the rails. A hip issue, followed by back surgery, followed by a forearm strain ended his tenure with the Yankees in disappointing fashion.
When he’s cooking, though, it’s an entirely different story. In 136 career starts, he owns a 3.58 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 829 strikeouts across 753.1 innings. The Dodgers wouldn’t be breaking the bank for him, either. Let’s say he costs a maximum of $10 million. The Dodgers sit at $204 million and will likely be going past the tax, but not too far. Maybe they can talk Paxton down to $7-$8 million due to the fact they’re the World Series champs and he’ll be in a tremendous position to rebuild his value for next offseason.
Adding Paxton would give the Dodgers more rotation depth in an uncertain 2021 and would also allow them to figure out how they want to deploy Dustin May, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin. May and Urias mostly have relief appearance under their belt and we’re just not sure if Gonsolin is going to be an answer for LA come October.
Paxton could play himself into an extension, too. He’s 32 years old and is a prime bounce back candidate if he’s handled correctly, and we all know the Dodgers do the right thing by their pitchers. So if/when Bauer signs with the Mets, just know this intriguing option will still be available.