The story of the offseason for the Rockies? "We need more pitching." Yes, it is quite obvious that a rotation of Kyle Freeland, Cal Quantrill, Austin Gomber, and quite a few youngsters will need a lot of help to get through a full year. In 2023, 17 different Rockies pitchers made starts for the team, something that is pretty unsurprising considering the lack of depth this organization has built. 2024 could be even worse, after injuries to German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela will keep them out for most, if not all, of the 2024 season.
With all of that being said, it's no surprise that in a recent Bleacher Report article entitled, "1 Realistic Free-Agent Signing to Fix Every MLB Team's Biggest Roster Need", they had the Rockies targeting a starting pitcher with high upside.
Bleacher Report thinks James Paxton can fix the Rockies biggest need
James Paxton is a very interesting arm, and one that the Rockies should be in the market for. He certainly has his concerns (25 starts in the last four years), but there is significant upside here. Paxton was a former top prospect for the Seattle Mariners. He posted seven straight seasons with an ERA below four, a strikeout rate of at least seven per nine innings, a walk rate of no more than four per nine, only one season with a home run per nine rate over one ... and yet, he averaged just 83 innings pitched per year for those seven years.
After dealing with a number of injuries, the Red Sox were hopeful that Paxton could return in late 2022, but a Grade 2 lat tear kept him out for the remainder of the season. This might have been a blessing in disguise for Paxton, though, as he came into 2023 healthy. He ended up making 19 starts, throwing 96 innings (his most since 2019), and posting a 4.50 ERA, a 9.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 1.7 HR/9. This was all in the fairly hitter friendly confines of Fenway Park in Boston. There is a strong possibility that Paxton's numbers could translate well to Colorado (or, at least, better than most) with all that swing-and-miss.
This would be a very smart move for Bill Schmidt and the Rockies. Spotrac sets Paxton's market value at a one-year, $10 million deal, but considering the recent contracts of Frankie Montas and Lucas Giolito, this number could climb a little higher. The Rockies have the financial ability to give Paxton a one-year deal worth $13 million or so, and this could prove very valuable come the trade deadline (where the Rockies could look to flip Paxton to a contender for prospects, similar to the Brad Hand situation last year).