Red Sox pitcher James Paxton has been limited by injuries to just 21⅔ innings over the last three seasons but posted a 56-32 record and 3.50 ERA in his first seven seasons from 2013-19 with the Mariners and Yankees. Steve Helber/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Veteran starter James Paxton will stay with the Red Sox in 2023 after exercising his $4 million club option to return to the club, the team announced.

That decision comes two days after the Red Sox announced they had declined a two-year, $26 million club option on the lefty. Once the club option was declined, it became a player option.

Paxton signed a unique, complicated contract last December that guaranteed a $6 million salary in 2022 as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. That deal included the dual option for 2023. Paxton had to make a decision whether to return to the Red Sox at that rate or test the open market as a free agent.

Paxton has been limited by injuries to just 21⅔ innings for the last three seasons but was a well above-average major league starter before that. He posted a 56-32 record and 3.50 ERA in his first seven seasons from 2013 to 2019 with the Mariners and Yankees. His return gives the Red Sox a cost-efficient option with upside next season. He joins Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Chris Sale as rotation options under contract. Boston also might choose to use Garrett Whitlock and/or Tanner Houck in the rotation. Michael Wacha, Nathan Eovaldi and Rich Hill are all free agents who the Red Sox have interest in re-signing.

Paxton did not pitch in the majors last season. His rehab was going well early in the season before posterior elbow soreness sidetracked his progress in May. By Aug. 18, he had progressed to the point where he was ready to get back into game action in hopes of returning in mid-September. Paxton made a rehab start for the Florida Complex League Red Sox in Fort Myers but lasted just two batters before leaving because of lat tightness. That was later diagnosed as a Grade 2 strain – a relatively minor issue – but it ended Paxton’s season.

Before that injury, the Red Sox were encouraged by what they saw from Paxton, who was already throwing when spring training started. His velocity was up and team officials thought the movement on his pitches was similar to how it was at the peak of his career with the Mariners and Yankees. There was genuine excitement about the possibility of adding him to the staff down the stretch. On Tuesday, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said he wanted Paxton back in a Red Sox uniform in 2023. He was hopeful the lefty would pick up the option.


“We have enjoyed having him here,” Bloom said at the GM meetings in Las Vegas. “We signed him with the hope that he’d be pitching postseason baseball for us at Fenway and we’d still love to see it through and see that happen.”

ASTROS: Dusty Baker agreed to a one-year contract with Houston after the 73-year-old earned his first World Series championship as a manager in his 25th season as a skipper when the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

GUARDIANS: Cleveland’s All-Star third baseman José Ramírez had thumb surgery to repair a ligament that he tore in June.

METS: All-Star closer Edwin Díaz and New York finalized a $102 million, five-year contract – the largest for a reliever in baseball history.

Díaz can opt out after three seasons, and the deal includes a team option for 2028. The 28-year-old right-hander became a free agent Sunday following a sensational season with the Mets, but quickly agreed to a new contract.

THE RED SOX avoided arbitration with outfielder Rob Refsnyder by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2 million deal for 2023, multiple sources confirmed.


Refsnyder was a pleasant surprise for Boston in 2022 after signing a minor league deal last winter. The 31-year-old hit .307 with six homers, 21 RBI and an .881 OPS in 57 games in the majors. He projects as a fourth outfielder and bench option for the Red Sox, who still have Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo on the roster as outfield options.

Refsnyder wasn’t a free agent. Instead, he was arbitration-eligible for the second time in his career. The Red Sox were always exceedingly likely to tender him a contract but Wednesday’s agreement locks in his salary for 2023.

OUTFIELDER AJ Pollock declined his $13 million player option with the Chicago White Sox and was among 10 players who became free agents Wednesday, raising the total to 161. In the final season of what turned out to be a $50 million, four-year contract, the 34-year-old hit .245 with 14 homers and 56 RBI. Pollock signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in January 2019 and was traded after the lockout for closer Craig Kimbrel.

In other moves:

• World Series champion Houston declined a $10 million option on first baseman Trey Mancini in favor of a $250,000 buyout and declined a $13 million option on reliever Will Smith in favor of a $1 million buyout.

• The Dodgers declined options on left-hander Danny Duffy ($8 million), third baseman Hanser Alberto ($2 million) and right-hander Jimmy Nelson ($1.1 million). Alberto gets a $250,000 buyout.


• Left-hander Drew Smyly turned down his $10 million player option with the Chicago Cubs and gets a $1 million buyout.

• Cincinnati declined a $13 million mutual option on left-hander Mike Minor, who gets a $1 million buyout, and Arizona declined a $4 million mutual option on right-hander Ian Kennedy, who gets a $250,000 buyout.

• Texas declined a $5.5 million option on outfielder Kole Calhoun.

• Baltimore turned down an $11 million option on right-hander Jordan Lyles, who gets a $1 million buyout.

Up to roughly 20 more players can become free agents on Thursday, when teams will announce decisions on which free agents to extend $19.65 million qualifying offers. A free agent can be made a qualifying offer only if he has been with the same team continuously since opening day and has never received a qualifying offer before. A player has until Nov. 20 to accept.

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