Red Sox: James Paxton’s contract is more than meets the eye

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The Boston Red Sox signed James Paxton to a team-friendly deal, but it turns out that contract has a little extra incentive.

Paxton would be a risk if there were much guaranteed money in his contract, but thankfully from a Red Sox perspective, the left-handed pitcher will have to earn his keep.

The one-year, $10 million contract that was first reported is a little bit misleading. It turns out, if Paxton never throws a pitch for the Red Sox, he’ll receive just $6 million…but there’s plenty more to earn.

“The contract swells,” said Paxton’s agent, Scott Boras. “He’s going to have to show durability for it to happen. He does it with the idea that he has an evaluation of what he’s worth without throwing [the $6 million salary for 2023]. Now if he goes out and throws well and he’s durable, that evaluation [of what he’s worth] is going to go up no matter what. For the player, in the back of his mind, he knows, ‘The key to me is not going out and throwing all these innings. The key for me is to throw optimally, efficiently, and healthily, so I can do one of two things — stay here for two years or go elsewhere.’ I don’t want the club to say, ‘I get to keep a guy for another year without a major commitment.’”

Red Sox: How much could James Paxton earn in Boston?

Paxton could earn as much as two years and $26 million more, depending on if he can stay healthy with the Red Sox. Boston has the choice of instigating a one or two-year option, depending on how much confidence they have in Paxton to stay healthy and relevant in the middle of their starting rotation.

Although he’s started just six games over the last two seasons combined in New York and Seattle, Paxton is the same pitcher who went 15-6 with the Yankees in 2019. Assuming he can find anywhere close to that kind of production, his contract could be a steal for the Red Sox.

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