James Paxton Undergoes Back Surgery, Out 3-4 Months

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By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York

The Yankees will be without starting pitcher James Paxton for the first few months of the 2020 season.

Paxton, 31, underwent a procedure to remove a peridiscal cyst as well as a microscopic lumbar discectomy, the Yankees announced Wednesday afternoon. The timeframe for Paxton's recovery is projected to be at least three to four months. 

.@James_Paxton becomes just the 3rd @Yankees pitcher to have 3 games with 12+ Ks and 1 BB or fewer in a season (Mussina 2001 & Tanaka 2017). pic.twitter.com/kS4CM8HdJU

— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) September 4, 2019

According to ESPN's Marly Rivera, the microscopic lumbar discectomy is a surgery to remove a herniated disc in the lower spine. The Big Maple struggled with injuries relating to his back throughout his career. In 2018, Paxton, then with Seattle, spent time on the injured list with inflammation in his lower back. 

Paxton, who was dealt to the Yankees in Nov. 2018, was stellar — when healthy — in his first season in New York. Paxton avoided arbitration with the Yankees when he agreed to a one-year, $12.5 million deal earlier in the offseason. 

In 2019, Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA last season. The fifteen wins in 29 games was a career-high mark for Paxton. He also dealt with a slew of injuries involving his knee and glute, which led him to a stint on the IL. The timing of the surgery, however, isn't ideal as Yankees' pitchers scheduled to report to spring training on Feb. 12. 

New York is already without starting pitcher Domingo German, who will miss the first 63 games next season as a result of his 81-game suspension handed out earlier in January. 

The addition of prized free agent Gerrit Cole bolstered the team's rotation and softens the loss of Paxton. Cole and Masahiro Tanaka are listed the Yankees' top two starters with Luis Severino and JA Happ filling out the rest of the rotation, according to the team's depth chart.

Paxton's absence also creates an opportunity for the likes of Jordan Montgomery and top prospects Deivi Garcia to slide into the vacancy.

New York is set to begin its spring training slate on Feb. 22 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Sans Paxton, the Yankees' commence the regular season in Baltimore on March 26.