Reclamation projects: 5 free agent hitters and 4 pitchers the Blue Jays should pursue

Which previously struggling players should the Blue Jays take a chance on in free agency that could bring surprising value to the ballclub in 2024?

Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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James Paxton

For Canadian pitcher James Paxton, he's always been a promising pitcher that has run into some severe bad luck when it came to injuries. When it appeared that he had finally put his injury troubles behind him with a clean bill of health during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he ran into the same issues once again in 2020. After one start in 2021 in which he lasted only four outs with the Mariners, Paxton underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. In the end, his string of bad luck would continue as he suffered several setbacks during the recovery process and didn’t end up returning until the 2023 season.

When healthy over the course of his career, Paxton has posted stellar numbers; with a 64-38 winning record, 3.69 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 932 strikeouts over 850.2 innings pitched in 156 games started. However, he struggled a bit coming off his two-year layoff in 2023 by compiling a 4.50 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 19 starts with the Boston Red Sox, though he did end up with a winning record at 7-5. Once again, he ran into injury woes with right knee inflammation near the end of the season, but at least this time, the injury didn't put him out for an extended period of time.