The decision to buy an ace and retain a sturdy No. 5 starter looks even better for the Yankees upon the revelation that James Paxton will miss at least April, possibly more, after undergoing back surgery Wednesday.
The Yanks announced Paxton underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst. The surgery was performed in Dallas by Dr. Andrew Dossett and the Yankees’ statement approximated that the lefty would return “to major league action” in 3-4 months. In a phone interview, Brian Cashman said doctors had told him to expect Paxton to be at full strength when he returns.
For Paxton, the timing is brutal. He is about to enter his walk season and the bugaboo for a talented starter is fragility — Paxton has still never qualified for an ERA title and now probably won’t this season either.
The Yankees are more positioned to absorb a rotation injury in 2020 than in 2019. Luis Severino, who missed nearly all of last season, is a full go for spring training. Notably, the Yanks invested $324 million in Gerrit Cole to be their ace, which pushes Severino, Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka down a rung in the rotation.