Yankees starter James Paxton will miss three to four months as he underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst, the team announced Wednesday.
The lefty went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA with 186 strikeouts in his first season with the Yankees in 2019.
The news comes as the Yankees and MLB teams were set to welcome pitchers and catches to spring training next week.
The Yankees added the top-prized free agent in the majors this offseason in Gerrit Cole, who will jump right into the top spot of their starting rotation. Despite that, Paxton was still expected to be a major player in the team's rotation, along with Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman previously said that J.A. Happ is the favorite to be the team's fifth starter to start the 2020 season. With the Paxton news, that will move Happ up and open up a spot. The early favorite would be Jordan Montgomery for that final spot.
While coming close to titles in recent years, the Yankees have also been the most injury-bitten team in the majors. Last August, third baseman Gio Urshela landed on the 10-day injured list with a groin injury. He was the 36th player to make the Yankees' IL in 2019, which became a MLB record for the most in one season.
Paxton, 31, agreed to a one-year, $12.5 million contract with the Yankees earlier this offseason to avoid salary arbitration.