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Is the Time Right to Trade Byron Buxton?

Last winter the Twins made a franchise altering trade by acquiring Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. Maeda finished runner up in the AL Cy Young race after a dominating first season in a Twins uniform. On the heels of a season with less revenue, teams might have to get creative this winter to add impact players to the 2021 roster. So, does that mean the time is right to trade Byron Buxton?
Image courtesy of © Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Byron Buxton is coming off a strong season where he led the Twins in WAR even though he only appeared in 39 of the team’s 60 games. He combined to hit .254/.267/.577 (.844) with 13 home runs and three doubles. Granted it was a small sample size, but his OPS and his slugging percentage were both career highs. It might seem silly to trade away a player of his caliber, but this is going to be an offseason unlike any other.

Buxton’s name has come up in trade talks before. At the 2019 trade deadline, the Twins were looking to upgrade their rotation for a potential playoff run. One of the teams Minnesota had discussions with was the New York Mets. The Twins were interested in acquiring starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, but talks stalled when the Mets insisted that Buxton be included in any trade. Minnesota wasn’t willing to deal Buxton then, so what might have changed?

One of the reasons the Twins might be more willing to deal Buxton is his current contract situation. Minnesota only has team control of Buxton for two more seasons as he enters his second year as an arbitration eligible player. He will likely be making somewhere between $4-6 million this season and next year would be a higher in his final arbitration year. Two years of team control might be the sweet spot for trading away a player, because the team acquiring him isn’t getting an expiring contract.

The Twins can also go in a different direction with Buxton if they wanted to try and sign him to an extension. Minnesota was able to work out extensions with some of the other young core players like Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano. Would Buxton be willing to sign a deal that bought out his remaining arbitration years while also giving the Twins more team control?

Approaching a Buxton extension is a little trickier than the names mentioned above, because of the way his career has transpired. There’s no question that he is a dynamic player, but injuries are part of his career that can’t be ignored. He’s only played more than 92 games in one big league season. The Twins have tried some creative approaches to keeping him on the field including having him start further back defensively and trying to jump off of two feet instead of one foot when attempting catches at the wall. Other teams know his injury history too and that might make a deal tougher to find.

Minnesota would have a big hole to fill in center field if Buxton were traded. Max Kepler can take over in center, but he has expressed concerns in the past about the wear his body goes through when playing at a more demanding defensive position. Other options on the 40-man roster include Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino and LaMonte Wade Jr. A more intriguing choice would be promoting Royce Lewis, but he has only played a handful of games above the High-A level and he’s played limited defensive innings in center.

Buxton’s trade value may never be higher as he enters the prime of his career and he has two years of team control. Minnesota is a better team when he is on the field, but this off-season is going to force teams to make some tough choices. Trading Buxton would be a difficult decision, but if the deal was right, it might be the time to move in a new direction.

Do you think the time is right to trade Byron Buxton? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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32 Comments

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drivlikejehu
Nov 17 2020 10:50 PM

I guess what doesn't make sense to me is this - how can you talk about trading Buxton without even mentioning what the Twins would be looking for in return?

 

I assume you don't mean prospects, this would be the most unimaginably stupid time to go into rebuilding mode . . . zero percent chance that happens.

 

So now we're down to trading Buxton for some other MLB position. And what exactly would that be? Utility player? DH? It would be nonsensical to trade Buxton for another position player. So that leaves pitchers.

 

So what are we expecting for 2 years of an inconsistent player who can't stay healthy? A #3 starter? After the Twins weakness all season was their offense? That makes no sense either.

 

I just can't picture the realistic return that would justify trading Buxton.

    • glunn, denarded, TopGunn#22 and 8 others like this

I would try and extend Buxton as the first option.If that is not possible, then you have to look at trading him, and not seeing him go to a big city in two years for maybe a comp pick.What I would want is a front line starting pitcher and then tweeking the deal to make it work.One that is young with upside.Clubs might be Miami, cleveland, and others that might have a surplus of young pitching with two or three with larger upsides.Anything you might do is dangerous, but if Buxton will not sign here, you have to be open about getting a good return for him.

    • glunn, mikelink45, DocBauer and 2 others like this
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Richard Swerdlick
Nov 18 2020 02:19 AM

Everybody is a potential trade situation if the deal is right.

    • glunn, LA VIkes Fan, mikelink45 and 2 others like this
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Doctor Gast
Nov 18 2020 05:35 AM

If Buxton leaves that leaves a big hole in CF which no one in the system can come close to fill. CF is too important for any aspiration to progress in the PS. As I see it Buxton is our only ticket to the dance.

I can see Buxton on fire in 2021 & beyond, we should make every effort to resign him & keep him healthy but like you said that would be difficult. If it comes down to trading him we have to some how find a replacement & that won`t be cheap. Trading for an ace will also not be cheap because Buxton trade value is not very good (we`ll never get what he`s worth to us)& that won`t solve our problem because we stillhave a glaring hole in CF. It would boil down to this, we can`t afford a decent replacement or ace so we`d have to get prospects & wait for the future, thereforeDonaldson & Maeda acquisitions would be in vain.

I see your angle Cody & appreciate it but FO has invested too deeply to attain some success in the PS to give up on Buxton. 

    • glunn, mikelink45 and Dodecahedron like this
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Nine of twelve
Nov 18 2020 06:42 AM

 

Buxton’s trade value may never be higher as he enters the prime of his career and he has two years of team control.

This is exactly what makes his value as a Twin as high or higher than ever. As Richard posted earlier this morning, no player is off the table. I would trade him and anyone else on the roster if the value of the return was greater than the value of the giveaway. I doubt Falvine are going to get an offer that good because other GM's are very unlikely to offer value higher than Buxton's value to us.

    • glunn, mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

 

Everybody is a potential trade situation if the deal is right.

 This!

 

There are a lot of options to fill CF if Buck would be traded. I like Springer or Brantley or Pillar. All Free Agents. So if you go that route to replace him then you almost have to think a Pitcher would be acquired in a return trade for Buck. Yeah, do it.

    • glunn, TopGunn#22 and DocBauer like this

Health is a major concern for Buxton, not only his defensive play, but concussions are there as well.  So with that being said, what is his value worth?  $4-$6MM annually for maybe 100 games of action.  Dynamic player, for sure, but he is becoming fragile.  Have to trust the process of seeing what he is worth on the market and go from there. There is never a bullet proof trade in my opinion.  As for Kepler saying it's demanding to play CF, quit complaining about it and do the job asked.

    • jrod23 likes this

My first thought would be to see if we could sign him to an extension like we've done with Kepler, Sano and Polanco.

 

That way you have payroll certainty and it also makes the player more tradeable because the team acquiring him has that certainty.I like what Buxton gives the Twins,

they just have to find a way for him to play 140-150 games consistently.He's our CF'er.

 

This is why I talk to a number of teams about Sano.He's cost certain for several years.He's got tremendous power.Teams like Boston and Colorado could use help at 1B.Cleveland will probably be without Santana.I move Sano for an elite SS (Story, Bogaerts) or a SP who is at worst a solid #2.I've got Kiriloff and Rooker RIGHT NOW.And they have the power hitter they drafted #1 from North Carolina?Can't remember his name right now, but he projects as a 1B/DH kind of guy.They could replace Sano.They can't really replace Buxton right now.

    • glunn and DocBauer like this

 

I would trade him and anyone else on the roster if the value of the return was greater than the value of the giveaway.

And every GM on the planet tries to accomplish this.The thing is, do you get 1 player in return? Two? Three? For every extra player we get in return means each is of lesser value individually. Is that what the Twins need? Or do you keep the impact potential of Buxton and make contingency plans if/when he is out of the lineup? If I'm the Twins GM, I sign Buxton because players like him don't come around often and I make the necessary plans for when he is unavailable.

    • glunn, mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

No, he is the Twins most valuable player.Sit down and work out an extension.

    • glunn, DocBauer, Wizard11 and 1 other like this

 

I guess what doesn't make sense to me is this - how can you talk about trading Buxton without even mentioning what the Twins would be looking for in return?

 

I assume you don't mean prospects, this would be the most unimaginably stupid time to go into rebuilding mode . . . zero percent chance that happens.

 

So now we're down to trading Buxton for some other MLB position. And what exactly would that be? Utility player? DH? It would be nonsensical to trade Buxton for another position player. So that leaves pitchers.

 

So what are we expecting for 2 years of an inconsistent player who can't stay healthy? A #3 starter? After the Twins weakness all season was their offense? That makes no sense either.

 

I just can't picture the realistic return that would justify trading Buxton.

All of this. Not to mention, the Twins don't have a surplus of CF talent in the pipeline...I'm not opposed to re-tooling this offseason by trading a core member or 2 away, but I wouldn't start with Buxton.

    • glunn, Danchat, dbminn and 2 others like this

I think that the commenters have really covered the issues - 

  • His track record of injuries means we will not get full value or return
  • We would not be trading him at peak value so maybe if he really shines this year?
  • Our system does not have an adequate, let alone, good, replacement in CF.Kepler is only a temporary fill in, Cave and Wade are not CFs.Celestino does not seem ready.And Lewis would be out of position.
  • Then there is the Torii Hunter example. The Twins tried extending him, but he went off as a free agent and we got nothing.
    • glunn, DocBauer, dbminn and 1 other like this

If trading him creates a hole in CF, then you only do so if you're rebuilding.

    • glunn, DocBauer, dbminn and 1 other like this

Offer him an outsized 5-year contract, but with incentive clauses that keep the cost down if he only plays 90 games. If the number is big enough, he will take it. And the incentive clauses are only fair given his track record.

    • glunn, beckmt, DocBauer and 3 others like this

I think trading Buxton is a fair question to ask:

 

* If he wasn't so injury prone I would say no

* Can we afford to sign him three years from now? If the answer is no then trading makes sense. If you trade him now, you might not get what you want because of his injury history. If you keep him one more year and he plays 140 games and his power production stays the same as last year or goes up you could get a boatload. But if he only plays 90 games his value will plummet.

 

I also fair to discuss trading Rosario and Sano .. I have no problem with you not listing trade options in this article. 

    • glunn and mikelink45 like this

 

Offer him an outsized 5-year contract, but with incentive clauses that keep the cost down if he only plays 90 games. If the number is big enough, he will take it. And the incentive clauses are only fair given his track record.

It takes two to tango and it appears Buxton is set to test FA as soon as he's able to. However, I wouldn't offer him 5 years either way without knowing if he can develop more power. His deadly speed isn't going to last his whole career. 

    • glunn, mikelink45 and DocBauer like this
One obstacle to trading anyone this year will be the glut of quality players who get non-tendered. Why give up anything for anyone when you could sign a good player on the cheap?
    • glunn and jrod23 like this
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drivlikejehu
Nov 18 2020 01:20 PM

 

 

I think that the commenters have really covered the issues - 

. . .

  • Then there is the Torii Hunter example. The Twins tried extending him, but he went off as a free agent and we got nothing.

 

 

Well the Twins might get something (i.e., draft pick), depending on what happens with the next CBA.

 

There's no actual reason the Twins have to trade Buxton even if he's ultimately going to walk. The Twins are trying to win, and Buxton helps them win. Worst case, they can replace him with either a prospect or a less expensive free agent in 2023. There's (hopefully) a lot of baseball to be played before then.

    • glunn and mikelink45 like this

I want to say I'd enjoy watching Buxton play for the Twins for years to come.However, just when you get used to his game-changing ability, you find out he's going to be sidelined.Numbers probably support, even with his injury filled seasons, he's still one of the most important players on the roster.That being said, I like dependability and durability.He just hasn't been consistent in either.Flashes?Yes, but consistently, no.

 

When it comes down to it for me, I just can't get over how often he seems to be in the dugout and not on the field.  It's deflating as a fan.I couldn't imagine how frustrating it is for Byron.

    • glunn and DocBauer like this

People can disagree all they want with my thoughts. In my opinion if everyone was available that were active for more than half of last season only Kepler & Garver would bring back a premium as position players. 

 

As for the pitchers, Berrios, Maeda, Pineda, and possibly Duffy and Rogers would bring back a premium in a trade.

 

 

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yeahyabetcha
Nov 18 2020 08:06 PM

It takes two to tango and it appears Buxton is set to test FA as soon as he's able to. However, I wouldn't offer him 5 years either way without knowing if he can develop more power. His deadly speed isn't going to last his whole career.


“Develop more power “?? If Buxton would use his natural talent and develop some base stealing , walk taking and line drive hitting skills, he would become more valuable to the team than the current version. The Twins have enough 20 homer, 230 average guys in the lineup already.
    • mikelink45, Scott51104 and umterp23 like this

 

It takes two to tango and it appears Buxton is set to test FA as soon as he's able to. 

Has he commented on this?

 

(If so, wow they ask them early these days...personally I wouldn't even be having the extend or trade conversation for another year.)

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tony&rodney
Nov 18 2020 09:52 PM

Atlanta is not trading Anderson or Fried, the Dodgers are not trading Buehler, Cleveland isn't trading Bieber, and that means the Twins aren't trading Buxton.

If the Indians will swap SB for BB, sure, do it. Otherwise, the Twins are all in on Byron this year.

This is a tough as nails but worthwhile discussion.

He's been injury prone, absolutely. Migraines are something I know about. It would appear he has those under control as I haven't heard a word about them in some time. NOBODY could do ANYTHING about a foot/toe injured while playing. A FB hitting his helmet is also beyond his control.

What IS in his control? Just not diving too often or running in to walls. He started to make that change this past season. But like so many things that happened in 2020, how do we judge Buxton?

He will not be the next Mays or Griffey Jr at this point. And he won't be the next Henderson leadoff hitter we all hoped he would be. I would argue...even with disappointment...so what? He'll only be 27yo next season and has already displayed himself as difference maker when on the field. And he is morphing himself in to a decent power hitter with defense and speed. I'm starting to see him as more of an Jim Edmonds kind of player.

If you can find a taker for a quality player, probably a controllable front of the rotation SP, I MIGHT be willing to make a trade and fill in CF the best you can for now...pending FA and future OF. But I'd much rather bet on talent and potential and a full season of adjusting his defensive/physical game for 2021 and beyond instead of selling relatively low at this point coming off 2020.

I'd bank on Buxton continuing to make adjustments to keep him healthy, playing at least 120 games or more, and re-evaluate.
    • tony&rodney likes this

Has he commented on this?

(If so, wow they ask them early these days...personally I wouldn't even be having the extend or trade conversation for another year.)


They’ve offered him and Berrios extensions the previous 2 offseasons and declined. You need a quote to interpret his intentions?

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