Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the New York Yankees
news

Yankees News

Paxton may remind you of this Yankees legend

Lefty grew up idolizing Pettitte, hopes to replicate HOF candidate's durability
MLB.com @DKramer_

James Paxton has heard the pitching-style comparisons many have made to a former Yankees great, even well before Paxton was acquired from the Mariners in a trade on Nov. 19.

The tendencies between Paxton and Andy Pettitte, both mechanical and within their repertoires, have been touted as similar for some time. So it's perhaps fitting that Paxton said Pettitte was one of his favorite players to watch growing up 3,000 miles from the Bronx, across the border and on the other coast in Ladner, British Columbia.

James Paxton has heard the pitching-style comparisons many have made to a former Yankees great, even well before Paxton was acquired from the Mariners in a trade on Nov. 19.

The tendencies between Paxton and Andy Pettitte, both mechanical and within their repertoires, have been touted as similar for some time. So it's perhaps fitting that Paxton said Pettitte was one of his favorite players to watch growing up 3,000 miles from the Bronx, across the border and on the other coast in Ladner, British Columbia.

Paxton said Friday on MLB Network's Hot Stove that Pettitte recently reached out to him following the blockbuster trade that sent the former Mariners starter to New York in exchange for Minor Leaguers Erik Swanson, Dom Thompson-Williams and Justus Sheffield, MLB Pipeline's No. 31 overall prospect.

"He texted me after he found out that I was a Yankee and said that he was fired up and excited to see me in Tampa," Paxton said of Pettitte. "I'm really looking forward to picking his brain and learning from him a little bit. He was definitely one of my favorite pitchers growing up."

The exchange with Pettitte was among many that Paxton has encountered in what he described to be a whirlwind since the trade. CC Sabathia and Aaron Hicks have also reached out to him. Paxton has conducted countless interviews, and he's embracing the spotlight that comes with being a member of the Yankees.

"I am really looking forward to playing in New York," Paxton said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for me. We have a really good team there and a really good chance at winning a championship. I can't wait. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Tweet from @James_Paxton: I am honored to have been chosen by the Yankees to help aid them in their quest for World Series ring #28. The Yankees organization has such a great history, tradition, and commitment to��� https://t.co/Gx1llcuC0C

Paxton brings top-of-the-rotation stuff to a Yankees staff that had a solid 2018 but lacked depth. Depending on what other moves the club makes this offseason -- the front office reportedly met with coveted free-agent lefty Patrick Corbin on Thursday, and by all indications the meeting went swimmingly -- Paxton will likely be the Yanks' No. 1 or 2 starter, rounding out a rotation that includes All-Star Luis Severino, Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka. General manager Brian Cashman has said that the club intends to trade Sonny Gray, who has been a disappointment since being acquired in a blockbuster deal ahead of the '17 Trade Deadline.

As promising as the Paxton trade appears to be for the Yankees -- the two years of club control they have remaining on him and all of the upside he offers -- the left-hander has struggled to put together a fully healthy effort over his six seasons in the Majors. He's posted a career 3.42 ERA over 102 outings (all starts) but his 160 1/3 innings pitched this past season were a career high.

Many of the injuries Paxton has sustained were self-described as "fluky." This past season, Paxton was sidelined in July with lower back inflammation and in August with a left forearm contusion after being hit by a comebacker during a start in Oakland. He also was hospitalized for pneumonia in September. In 2017, Paxton was twice placed on the disabled list, with a strained left pectoral muscle and a left forearm strain.

Paxton said on Friday that one of his primary offseason objectives is "just learning more about my body."

"Every season I've had something and I've had to learn from it. Last season, it was my back and I had to learn about that and how to keep that healthy. The other two things were just kind of fluky things -- getting sick and then getting hit in the arm. Maybe work on my reflexes a little bit. ... You know, my body feels great right now. I feel like I'm going to come into the season in the best shape that I've been in in my career and give it my best shot to stay healthy for the entire season."

In total, Paxton has been on the disabled list in each of the past five seasons. It's a trend the Yanks were willing to gamble against, and one that Paxton is confident he can overcome.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

New York Yankees, James Paxton