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I can no longer say I want the Twins to emulate the Astros. Bush league maneuver to use cameras in order to steal signs.
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The Twins are entering their most crucial offseason in many years. After winning 101 games and their first division title since 2010, Min...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Spending Every Penny

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Jim Pohlad has had it up to here with you people. After checking his burner twitter account (@matthew_btwins) and once again seeing someo...
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Kris Bryant Decision Could Have Ramifications for Twins and Byron Buxton

Kris Bryant was a star prospect on the way to the big leagues back in 2015, but the Cubs kept him in the minor leagues to pick up an extra year of service time. At least this is what Bryant is alleging in a grievance field with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association. The decision in this case could have ramifications across the baseball landscape with Minnesota’s own Bryon Buxton.
Image courtesy of © Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Bryant’s Case
Bryant is alleging manipulation of his service time that will keep him from reaching free agency until after the 2021 season. Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, and the MLBPA are arguing that he started the 2015 season at Triple-A, so the club could delay his service-time, a move that is entirely within an organization’s rights.

That spring, he had hit .425 with nine home runs in 40 at-bats and those numbers were no accident. In an interview with Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic, Bryant talked about how he trained differently for that spring so he could put up strong numbers and make it hard for the team to send him down.

“It was so obvious,” Bryant told The Athletic. “‘Oh, he’s gotta work on his defense.’ Stuff like that. But now I can look back on it and just laugh about it because I was told to work on my defense… and I think I got three ground balls in those games that I played. So it’s like, ‘Oh, now he’s ready.’”

He made his big-league debut on April 17, 2015, which meant he only missed 12 days that season. Still, he will fall one day short of being eligible for free agency after the 2020 campaign.

Buxton’s Case
Buxton’s own service time issue doesn’t exactly mirror Bryant’s, but he could have an argument if Bryant wins his case. During the 2018 season, Buxton struggled through multiple injuries and ended the year on the Rochester Red Wings roster. He wasn’t made a September call-up and this choice didn’t sit well with Buxton at the time.

“Yes, I ain’t sugarcoating nothing,” Buxton told the Star Tribune last December. “It kind of didn’t go over well.”

Migraine headaches, a broken toe and a strained wrist cost him much of the 2018 season, but his health seemed to be improving in August with Rochester. He batted .365/.400/.596 (.996) with nine extra-base hits in 12 games and he had every reason to think his performance warranted a September call-up. But by keeping him down, the Twins picked up another year of team control. Instead of reaching free agency following the 2021 season, Buxton will have to wait until after the 2022 campaign.

Minnesota had reasons for keeping him down including a lingering wrist injury, poor strike zone discipline, and not enough playing time at the big-league level. However, Thad Levine admitted service time played a role in why Buxton was kept in the minors.

"I think part of our jobs is we're supposed to be responsible to factoring service time into every decision we make," Levine said. "I still feel pretty resolute in saying that the other three factors were more present for us in this decision-making process than that. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't at least aware of service-time impacts on decisions we make."

Realistically, this is an issue that needs to be addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement. There’s not timeline for a decision in MLBPA’s case for Bryant and there’s no guarantee he will win, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

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81 Comments

The Twins could make this right by offering a contract to him that makes this bad faith move irrelevant.

    • gunnarthor, James, DocBauer and 3 others like this

I supported the Twins decision last year with how they handled Buxton. I thought it made complete sense in that it gave the organization an extra year of team control (and evaluation) for a guy who played 3 phenomenal months of baseball over 4 partial years of MLB play. It also prevented Buxton from sustaining some sort of injury that would have prevented him from coming into 2019 at full strength. I got roasted on Twitter by a some Twins beat writers, but I think it was the correct decision by the front office.

 

The issue at hand isn't that the front office has done Kris Bryant or Byron Buxton wrong, but the fact that the rules regarding team control provide incentives to teams to hold players down in the minors to gain an extra year of team control. Players are rightfully getting fed up with ownership fielding less than their best teams for weeks/months at a time in order to save some money years down the road.

 

Finally, the free agent market from the past couple years shows how reluctant front offices are becoming to paying for past performance. Players will struggle to receive fair compensation over the course of their careers (based on production) due to how long teams can suppress salaries for players on rookie contracts. Mitch Garver is a perfect example; he will not become a free agent until he is 33 years old in 2024. Without an extension from the Twins prior to becoming a free agent, he stands to make ~$15M (estimate). If he were able to be a free agent this off season he would get a contract making at least $15M per year until 2024. By the team he actually is eligible for free agency, he might be playing year-to-year. Rules need to be adjusted to compensate guys sooner in their careers and remove the incentives to hold players in the minor leagues for financial gain, in my opinion.

    • Mike Frasier Law, Riverbrian, SwainZag and 4 others like this
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In My La-Z-boy
Oct 28 2019 08:06 AM

 

I supported the Twins decision last year with how they handled Buxton. I thought it made complete sense in that it gave the organization an extra year of team control (and evaluation) for a guy who played 3 phenomenal months of baseball over 4 partial years of MLB play. It also prevented Buxton from sustaining some sort of injury that would have prevented him from coming into 2019 at full strength. I got roasted on Twitter by a some Twins beat writers, but I think it was the correct decision by the front office.

 

The issue at hand isn't that the front office has done Kris Bryant or Byron Buxton wrong, but the fact that the rules regarding team control provide incentives to teams to hold players down in the minors to gain an extra year of team control. Players are rightfully getting fed up with ownership fielding less than their best teams for weeks/months at a time in order to save some money years down the road.

 

Finally, the free agent market from the past couple years shows how reluctant front offices are becoming to paying for past performance. Players will struggle to receive fair compensation over the course of their careers (based on production) due to how long teams can suppress salaries for players on rookie contracts. Mitch Garver is a perfect example; he will not become a free agent until he is 33 years old in 2024. Without an extension from the Twins prior to becoming a free agent, he stands to make ~$15M (estimate). If he were able to be a free agent this off season he would get a contract making at least $15M per year until 2024. By the team he actually is eligible for free agency, he might be playing year-to-year. Rules need to be adjusted to compensate guys sooner in their careers and remove the incentives to hold players in the minor leagues for financial gain, in my opinion.

Yes and Yes - Players association traditionally sets the rules favoring veterans, at the expense of rookies. We'll see what happens next. Buxton case has no merit. Bryant does. The Twins deserve an extra year I believe. I also believe we either sign him or trade him this winter - making this irrelevant.

    • 70charger and JW24 like this

I think both players got screwed and it made me like baseball a little less in both cases. I think the author is right that the next CBA is going to have to address this b/c that's probably the only way this will get fixed. 

    • Mike Sixel, mikelink45 and Don Walcott like this

Weren't there rumors of the FO approaching Buxton about buying out some of Buxton's arbitration years, similar to the contracts of Polanco and Kepler and Buxton turning the Twins down?

 

I don't see where Buxton really has a gripe, because if it's true, he would have been paid a lot of money for playing in Triple A ball.

 

Yes and Yes - Players association traditionally sets the rules favoring veterans, at the expense of rookies. We'll see what happens next. Buxton case has no merit. Bryant does. The Twins deserve an extra year I believe. I also believe we either sign him or trade him this winter - making this irrelevant.

With Buxton, I think the Twins have had every intent of signing him to a huge contract once he earns it with his play on the field. His 3 month stretch in 2017 and the way he started 2019 certainly showed he is deserving of a huge extension, health permitting.

 

Gaining the extra year of team control does not prevent the Twins from offering Buxton an extension; it provides both team and player with additional time to evaluate on-field performance and discuss future value. I hope the Twins offer Buxton an extension this off-season (I think he will figure out how to stay healthy, nothing to support my opinion), rendering the extra year of control relatively moot.

    • gil4, DocBauer and In My La-Z-boy like this
Bryant will almost certainly win his case, and Buxton will likely file too.... and win. It was stupid leaving him off the roster in September last year, and the Twins deserve whatever comes from it.
    • gunnarthor, Don Walcott and Huskertwin like this

Bryant will almost certainly win his case, and Buxton will likely file too.... and win. It was stupid leaving him off the roster in September last year, and the Twins deserve whatever comes from it.


Based off what? Did the Cubs or Twins violate a rule or do the players not like the deal their reps negotiated after the fact?

Do you think the veteran hanging on to his roster spot is just like, "here kris, take my spot and paycheck." The players' diverse interest is part of the issue too. Vets and Rookies might not have the same interests. Paying young players more, realistically means paying veteran players less.
    • Twins33, Riverbrian, 70charger and 8 others like this

I think both players got screwed and it made me like baseball a little less in both cases. I think the author is right that the next CBA is going to have to address this b/c that's probably the only way this will get fixed.


Look at how much service time and MLB salary Buxton has received while on the IL/DL. Look how patient we were allowing him to accumulate service time while struggling with the big club. We could have optioned him this September but didn't.

His injury history almost assuredly plays in. After last year, the team certainly could have activated Buxton then optioned him out of spring training in the traditional manner of holding a player back. If he killed it on September and ST, then keep him up and don't worry about service time. But you're leaving yourself vulnerable for another tweak and more IL service time you can't get back.
    • by jiminy, Kelly Vance and SF Twins Fan like this

I don't see how this could affect Buxton, unless he files his own grievance and waits another 4 years for the case to be heard. At which point he'll be past arbitration anyway. Bryant and Boras filed this in 2015.

 

While it's undeniable that teams manipulate the clock, Bryant and Buxton are very different cases. Bryant was called up 1 day later and hasn't been demoted since. Buxton has been back-and-forth since day one, and the stats in 2017 would likely back up the Twins' 2017 decision.

 

    • glunn, 70charger, Dman and 4 others like this
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Battle ur tail off
Oct 28 2019 10:15 AM

 

Bryant will almost certainly win his case, and Buxton will likely file too.... and win. It was stupid leaving him off the roster in September last year, and the Twins deserve whatever comes from it.

 

I don't agree at all. Buxton has had 2 months of good baseball in his career and the rest of it, he has been one of the worst hitters in the league. To be honest, I am still not sold on his bat. He doesn't have a gripe until he can hit with consistency and also not get simple stupid injuries to keep him off the field. So far, he has been as fragile as a China doll. 

    • by jiminy, SF Twins Fan, ewen21 and 1 other like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 28 2019 10:23 AM

I don't think Buxton and Bryant are the same at all. Buxton had plenty of really bad on field results in 2018 and as was noted spent plenty of time on the DL too... That will get factored in I'm sure. The team is going to argue (and rightly so) that Buxton didn't earn that callup. 

    • Twins33, 70charger and SF Twins Fan like this
Me personally, I'm weary of the arguement as it feels we've already been down this road multiple times before.

I like Buxton. I believe in a healthy Buxton. I believe the team does as well, and would love to pay him a nice extended contract.

But considering all the injuries and poor performance, I just dont see how a hot streak at the end of the AAA season necessarily warranted some automatic ML promotion for a player who had been through so much.
    • SQUIRREL, Riverbrian, by jiminy and 4 others like this
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MMMordabito
Oct 28 2019 11:19 AM

 

I believe in a healthy Buxton. 

 

... which is starting to sound like believing in the Easter bunny .... Everytime you think you see him, he hops into the hedge (shoulder first).

 

Buxton isn't going to have the case that Bryant does. His injury history printout probably weighs as much as the title for Johnny Cash's Psychobilly Cadillac. It's way to much to point to as legitimate reason for not calling him up.  

 

Tony Clark just can't be reached, so you get what we've had here the last several years which is the way Tony wants it. Well, he gets it. And I don't like it any more than you (wo)men.

    • mikelink45 likes this
Buxton absolutely earned a call up. I remember arguing this topic ad nauseam. He was healthy, was the day 1 starter, and was not brought back because of service time.... also was the day 1 starter in 2019. Health and performance had little to do withholding a promotion in September of 2018.

Buxton and Bryant aren't identical cases, but they are similar. Bryant's case is going to be prescient for Buxton's. I have no remorse for the owners. They've gotten away with this for too long.

I'm honestly surprised how many people aren't on the player's side.
    • SQUIRREL, jbissell, Don Walcott and 1 other like this
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Kelly Vance
Oct 28 2019 11:47 AM

Im tired of the catty comments that Buxton didn't deserve a call up, like he was some AAA player trying to break through.He was all world defensive center fielder.The Ozzie Smith of outfielders. He makes miraculous catches often.To say he isn't our starting CF whenever he is healthy is absolute bull. He was voted the best defensive player in all of baseball, at any position. His defense alone justified the call up.And his hitting had improved post wrist injury .365, even in AAA and even in a small sample size is not nothing.We had guys on the roster hitting way lower than that.

 

My suggestion was to tell him what we lose by calling him up, and saying we're gonna do it anyway. Because you are family.And we want to extend you 5 years. Whaddaya say Buck?

 

Even in today's me first climate, players want to be respected and appreciated.I think he'd have signed an extension if handled right. 

    • jbissell, Oldgoat_MN, Don Walcott and 1 other like this
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IndianaTwin
Oct 28 2019 11:52 AM

 

... which is starting to sound like believing in the Easter bunny .... Everytime you think you see him, he hops into the hedge (shoulder first).

 

Buxton isn't going to have the case that Bryant does. His injury history printout probably weighs as much as the title for Johnny Cash's Psychobilly Cadillac. It's way to much to point to as legitimate reason for not calling him up.  

 

Tony Clark just can't be reached, so you get what we've had here the last several years which is the way Tony wants it. Well, he gets it. And I don't like it any more than you (wo)men.

 

Let's hope his career can still come together one piece at a time...

 

    • MMMordabito likes this
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IndianaTwin
Oct 28 2019 12:49 PM

 

... which is starting to sound like believing in the Easter bunny .... Everytime you think you see him, he hops into the hedge (shoulder first).

 

Buxton isn't going to have the case that Bryant does. His injury history printout probably weighs as much as the title for Johnny Cash's Psychobilly Cadillac. It's way to much to point to as legitimate reason for not calling him up.  

 

Tony Clark just can't be reached, so you get what we've had here the last several years which is the way Tony wants it. Well, he gets it. And I don't like it any more than you (wo)men.

 

Guess what song just played on the oldies station I'm listening to...

    • MMMordabito likes this

I am not sold on Buxton, in fact I am willing to accept the label of being the least enamored of TD readers, but this is not about the player and in the economics of the game I am sympathetic to Buxton's case against the team.I was so blatant. 

    • Don Walcott likes this

I'd have no problem with Buxton getting any amount he earned. So far, he hasn't earned what he's been paid. Been with the big league club starting in June 2015 and has played in 393 games. That's barely over half the games in those 5 years. 

If the Twins ever get a full season out of him they'll be lucky. Defense is important but when it's only available half the time you're better off with full-time offense.

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KirbyDome89
Oct 28 2019 03:21 PM

 

Weren't there rumors of the FO approaching Buxton about buying out some of Buxton's arbitration years, similar to the contracts of Polanco and Kepler and Buxton turning the Twins down?

 

I don't see where Buxton really has a gripe, because if it's true, he would have been paid a lot of money for playing in Triple A ball.

Those were considered team friendly deals before either player started this season. It's a even larger W for the Twins in retrospect, especially if their level of play in 19' can be sustained. That type of deal throttles Buxton's earning potential. He's already an elite defender, he's a freak athlete, and we've seen what he can do when healthy. If I'm him on gambling on my performance paying out a higher dividend via arbitration too. 

 

His gripe is that his service time was very obviously manipulated. His decision not to accept a team friendly contract offer doesn't change that fact. Despite all the hand wringing over whether or not he deserved to be on the roster, it's actually a pretty easy case to make. Look at the September roster from that season and ask yourself whether every player on it is better than Byron Buxton. 

    • Don Walcott likes this

a. Buxton's situation is old news.Since then he did not file even though he had the opportunity to file.

 

b. Teams have the right to keep any player with options in the minor leagues for as long as they want to, for any reason they want to. Nothing was done illegally in either case. If the players' union does not like it, they need to change it in the next CBA. If individual players do not like what their union have signed, they should change their leaders.

    • gil4, Twins33, Riverbrian and 5 others like this

 

I don't agree at all. Buxton has had 2 months of good baseball in his career and the rest of it, he has been one of the worst hitters in the league. To be honest, I am still not sold on his bat. He doesn't have a gripe until he can hit with consistency and also not get simple stupid injuries to keep him off the field. So far, he has been as fragile as a China doll. 

If we had this discussion on a baseball board fans of all the other teams would roll their eyes at us.Buxton was a nightmare in 2018.He couldn't hit, got hurt a couple of times and then complained about not knowing what the team wanted from him.

Hello?He hit .156, got injured and didn't get back on the field again for while.When he did his batting average remained in the .220s, .230s in Rochester until he finally started to wake up about ten days before they expanded the roster.So yes, he did hit .365 over the course of 12 games in AAA, but nothing else was mentioning in the opening post about his stats that year.Why not?

 

As far as I am concerned, he needed to look in the mirror, but instead he got heated--at a Children's Hospital no less.That rubbed me the wrong way.He should have held himself more accountable and been more open to understanding the other side of the discussion.He should be grateful to the Twins.With all the struggles he's had he has been treated very, very well by this organization.He has had quite a support system of ex-players, writers, coaches, bloggers, etc...and has received tons of praise even when he has been mired in deep slumps.The Twins gave him one heck of a signing bonus and has been spotty at best offensively and has had trouble staying on the field.Bryant has been in three All Star games and has won an MVP trophy. He has an OPS that is almost .200 points higher than Buxton.How are these two even mentioned in the same conversation?They have virtually nothing in common other than they both got to the big leagues in 2015.The difference?Bryant played in 151 games and won the ROY award.Buxton could not handle major league pitching at all that year.

 

We really need to start having an honest discussion about Buxton.All too often, when threads get started on him the positives get thrown out there, but I don't see the other side of it much.It makes me feel compelled to fill in and present the other side because you never see that in the OP.I believe he is at a crossroads in his career.If he can't get it together soon both health-wise and offensively why in the heck should we extend him?

 

Color me a skeptic.What happened to Chris Bryant was rough, but that is business.He can perhaps make a case for himself.Buxton is an entirely different matter.He needs to simply move on, stay on the field and show more consistency.

    • DocBauer, SF Twins Fan, Wizard11 and 3 others like this

I'm tired of being expected to fawn over Buxton for how hard he plays. As I see it, he routinely and intentionally risks injury in unnecessary and counterproductive ways. Who does that benefit? Not the team. It almost cost the Twins the division this year. That's not heroism, that's selfishness. The idea that he is willing to risk his body for the benefit of his team and his teammates is the opposite of what I see. He is risking his team's success for the benefit of his ego.

 

The team had to ask him to play deeper so he wouldn't crash into the walls so hard? How about just stop crashing into walls so hard? But no, instead he puts on 30 pounds of muscle, from some delusion that makes him injury proof? And no one can call him on it or what, he'll pout? It's embarrassing.

 

If you want to talk about who is exploiting the service time rules, how about Buxton intentionally damaging his team's prize asset, his body, knowing that he will continue accruing service time even while on the shelf?

 

I think Buxton is one of the best players in the league, but I would have serious reservations about signing him to a long term contract unless there was a significant discount based on injury risk. According to his past history, you should expect to get about half the games you pay for from him. That's how much he should be projected to be worth going forward. Anyone who pays him what he's worth at his best for seven years, not for his actual history of intermittent production, is going to get hosed. I've seen no indication from him he intends to protect himself. Even estimating you'll get half the games you pay for is optimistic, because that's assuming he keeps getting back on the field after each injury. Look how long his shoulder took to heal. And he's young and healthy. As the damage accumulates, he'll come back slower and slower, as in, slower to heal, and less productive.

 

Look what concussions did to Mauer, Morneau, and Koskie. What are Buxton's chances of playing as long as they did, at this rate? Morneau and Koskie retired early, and Mauer had to move to first base. Buxton isn't moving to first base. He's either going to have agree to pull up and let a ball drop now and then, or he's going to be out of the league by age 30.

 

The idea that he got screwed out of service time in a year he hit .156/.183/.200 while playing in 28 games is crazy. Yes, he's an all-world fielder, when healthy. Yes, he has tantalizing spurts of good hitting. But I don't think he should have even been on the big league team until he proved he could hit major league pitching. When your team is as bad as the Twins were, why promote a guy before he's ready?

 

He was promoted too early in hopes that he would learn to hit in the majors. It didn't work. He should have been in AAA until he was ready to hit consistently. His major league service time should have been earned when he was actually contributing to his full potential, and the team was good enough for it to matter.

 

I think he'd have made more money over all if he had been allowed to focus on learning his trade in AAA and was promoted when he was ready to be a star. His arb numbers would be huge, and his free agent payday would be monstrous, if his track record was that of a star from day one, not a spotty disappointment with flashes of potential spread over five years. The only reason he was in the majors was to dangle something worth watching in front of the disheartened fans of a 90 loss team.

 

A number one prospect in baseball shouldn't take five years to break a .728 OPS. I think the Twins have been wasting his service time, personally. I don't think he accrued too little service time in the past five years, I think he accrued way too much.

    • DocBauer, Wizard11, ewen21 and 2 others like this

Buxton absolutely earned a call up. I remember arguing this topic ad nauseam. He was healthy, was the day 1 starter, and was not brought back because of service time.... also was the day 1 starter in 2019. Health and performance had little to do withholding a promotion in September of 2018.

Buxton and Bryant aren't identical cases, but they are similar. Bryant's case is going to be prescient for Buxton's. I have no remorse for the owners. They've gotten away with this for too long.

I'm honestly surprised how many people aren't on the player's side.


This is a different argument entirely. It's a matter of player's side vs players' (plural) side. Dozens of prospects have been held back, demoted, or even traded due to service time and MLB team need. No one cares. But we're all supposed to feel extra bad for Buxton? Why? Why is his case special? Why be outraged for him compared to the many other good players who didn't get his signing bonus?

The system works exactly like it was designed, to keep younger players in the minors and on cheap deals which allocates more $$ to vets. Except it backfired. Young players are so cheap, they're frequently more desirable than vets even if the vet is a better player. Stop me if you've heard this: "don't sign ______ for $X, when we could get almost the same production from ______ for almost nothing."

So yeah, I support the players because the reps favored vets and negotiated a bad deal. But I don't support Buxton's case as special. The organization gave him every chance. If he plays better, nonstory. if he stays healthy, nonstory. He says he was 100% healthy. But there's still a risk. Bringing him back in a lost season only to see him tweak something go to the DL for a month and lose a full season of his prime? come on. his is the not the case that should generate outrage. as others have mentioned, guys like Garver are getting screwed way more by the deal.
    • Thrylos, Riverbrian, by jiminy and 5 others like this

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