James Paxton Explains Health Concerns That Resulted In Dodgers Restructuring Contract

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

Even after trading for Tyler Glasnow and signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Los Angeles Dodgers remained in search of starting pitching depth. It led them to James Paxton and eventually Clayton Kershaw joining the team on respective one-year contracts.

Kershaw’s deal also includes a player option for 2025, and while his re-signing with the Dodgers had recently become expected, the longtime ace estimated he won’t be available to pitch until July or August.

That puts more of an emphasis on the rest of the Dodgers starting rotation and Paxton in particular. The veteran left-hander has dealt with multiple injuries throughout his career but is expected to be part of the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation.

There already was a minor bump in the road as the Dodgers reworked Paxton’s contract from an $11 million guarantee to a $4 million base with incentives included because health concerns arose.

During his first time speaking with reporters since signing with the Dodgers, Paxton explained the team was troubled by last year’s right knee injury and any lingering effects from a prior Tommy John surgery, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

Paxton said it was nothing specific that came up during the physical – “just my body.” But he acknowledged the Dodgers were “worried” about the right knee injury that ended his season early last year with the Boston Red Sox.

“They wanted to talk about that,” he said. “Obviously, going through the Tommy John (surgery in 2021) and talking about how my elbow was feeling and stuff like that. But that was about it.”

Although the 35-year-old had his 2023 season end in September because of right knee inflammation, it did not require surgery nor a period of rehab during the offseason. That was a welcomed change for Paxton as previous years he spent the winter months recovering from a significant injury.

With the Boston Red Sox last season, he went 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 19 starts, but carried a much better 2.73 ERA into the All-Star break.

Paxton had his best season in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners, posting career highs in innings pitched (160.1), strikeouts (208), strikeouts per nine (11.7), complete games (two) and WHIP (1.10).

James Paxton injury history

Paxton spent the past two seasons with the Red Sox but did not pitch for the team in 2022. He made just one start for the Seattle Mariners in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.

While on a rehab assignment in 2022, Paxton suffered a Grade 2 lat tear that ended his season before it truly began. He opened last season on the 15-day injured list because of a right hamstring strain that kept him out until the middle of May.

In 2021, Paxton dealt with a left forearm strain. The year prior he suffered a left flexor strain and in 2019 experienced left knee inflammation. Paxton’s injury history also include lower back inflammation (2018), strained left pectoral muscle (2017), left forearm strain (2017), strained tendon in left middle finger (2015) and left Latissimus dorsi muscle strain (2014).

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