The Houston Astros, among other teams, are reportedly interested in the Seattle Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton.
The Seattle Mariners seem to be putting no limits on who they’re making available to the market this winter. After a seventeenth straight year of missing the postseason, it appears they are in full-blown rebuild mode. James Paxton is one of those players, and the Astros are listed as one of the teams to have expressed interest, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Houston’s only pitchers locked into the starting rotation for the upcoming season are Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock could be brought back into starting roles from their recent bullpen duties. Also, prospects like Forrest Whitley and Josh James are worth keeping an eye on, to garner one of the rotation spots.
McHugh had the better season and would most likely get the nod over Peacock if it was deemed necessary to keep one of the two in the pen. The Astros have a deep bullpen, but with Tony Sipp a free agent and the possibility of other relievers used as trade bait, they may opt to keep one of the two as a reliever.
Whitley is widely considered to be the best pitching prospect in baseball and is enjoying a good season in the Arizona Fall League. Josh James currently has the major league experience over Whitley and had a couple of nice starts for the Astros when called up in September. Houston may opt to give Forrest a little more time with their Triple-A affiliate next year. The 2019 Spring Training results for these two may tell a lot.
The hard-throwing Paxton could be a nice addition to the rotation if he can stay healthy. He’s no stranger to injury issues over his career. This past season with the Mariners, Paxton pitched 160 innings, the highest total he’s achieved in a season, but still managed to end up 9th in the league with 208 strikeouts. He finished the 2018 season with a record of 11 – 6 and an ERA of 3.76.
Whether Seattle would be willing to send him to a divisional rival remains to be seen, but if they’re essentially starting over with a couple of seasons or more rebuilding, they may be open to the idea. Plus, with Paxton’s 2019 salary of about $9 million, it could be an affordable option for the Astros to insert a proven and experienced starter into the rotation.