Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Article: MIN 6, BOS 2: Bats Get to Boston Bullpen

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:44 AM
Chris Sale was his usual amazing self, but Jose Berrios kept the Twins in the game and Eduardo Escobar worked his Fogo magic once again....
Full topic ›

Article: Twins Minor League Report (6/19): All-Star Festi...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:33 AM
It was a busy night in the system on Tuesday, as the short season leagues have kicked off and two affiliate’s leagues played their All-St...
Full topic ›

Article: Is Paul Molitor the Right Man to Lead the Twins?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:28 PM
Shortly after they hired Paul Molitor as manager in November of 2014, the Twins invited me to Target Field for a one-on-one interview wit...
Full topic ›

Game Thread: Twins vs. Red Sox 12:10 am GMT 6/19/2018

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:22 PM
Welcome to tonight’s game thread where the three people that tune in to watch the game will be treated to what most certainly will be the...
Full topic ›

Johnson: Lewis Playing Through Patellar Tendinitis,

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:12 PM
Jeff Johnson talked to Royce Lewis this morning about his knee issue. Lewis noted that he was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis awh...
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs


The Time For A Buxton Extension Is Now

This has been an unpredictable saga to say the least. Here in the middle of January, almost every major free agent remains unsigned. Like most other clubs in the league, the Twins are still waiting to make their first truly significant move.

The unfamiliar landscape of this offseason is clearly flummoxing both teams and players. The Twins can't control that. But they can control their own house.

Which leads me to wonder about the biggest mystery of this mysterious winter: The Twins haven't signed Byron Buxton to a long-term contract extension. In fact, if they've even been discussing it, the secret has been well kept.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today
Entering his final season before the arbitration clock begins, Buxton is reaching a point where the Twins generally lock up their building-block players, for cost assurance if nothing else.

DOZIER VU

Like, deja vu. Get it? Alright it's dumb but let's get back to the point.

It was at this same stage in Brian Dozier's career that the Twins signed him to a four-year contract, which will wrap up this season. Because they timed the extension just ahead of Dozier's true breakout (he was an All Star the following July), the Twins have had him at a bargain the last few years, and will again in 2018.

Had they simply run out the thread with Dozier and gone year-to-year in arbitration, he would be costing them almost twice his $9 million salary this year. That was an underrated move by Terry Ryan and Co.

They were criticized at the time for failing to buy out any of Dozier's free agency, but that's a shortsighted complaint in my mind. Of course the Twins tried to get another year. But who could blame the second baseman's camp for resisting? He was already giving the team a great deal – if he grew in the way he no doubt believed he would.

What Dozier got out of this arrangement was comfort. He received assurance that even if things went unforeseeably amiss, or major injury struck, he'd still be getting nice annual raises. Now, he is set to cash in bigtime.

The looming spectre of Dozier's free agency is an unspoken impediment in the front office's talk of sustained long-term winning. It is also evidence of the urgency that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should feel to hammer out something more substantial with Buxton, and soon.

MERCURY RISING

There has been no buzz of extension negotiations between Dozier and the Twins. It seems clear that he's intent on testing the open market.

Losing him after this year would be a bummer, but not a catastrophe. He'll be into his 30s, and while he's not a guy you replace, Minnesota's system has grown deep in middle infielders.

Envisioning a similar scenario with Buxton is far more frightening.

Dozier debuted in the major leagues at age 24. Buxton turned 24 less than a month ago, following a season in which he won a Gold Glove and received MVP votes. If he simply plays out his years of team control, he'll be hitting free agency after the 2021 season. At that point he'll be 27 years old, and if his ascent thus far is any indication, it's scary to think how good he'll be.

Oh, also: Royce Lewis will theoretically be a fledgling big-leaguer.

The Twins need to get something done while they still a fair amount of leverage.

RISK MANAGEMENT

The same benefit that enticed Dozier – comfort – is magnified in Buxton's case.

While Dozier had proven quite durable throughout his pro career, Buxton hasn't enjoyed the same fortune. His brazen aggressiveness in center field, coupled with an ability to hurtle at ungodly speeds, has proven costly. Buck has missed a whole bunch of time, and while 2017 was largely a reprieve from the medley of injuries, it ended with a nasty wall collision in NYC.

Buxton and his reps at Jet Sports Management surely recognize the earning potential in his not-too-distant future, but also must weigh his inevitably hazardous style of play. The Twins could offer much peace of mind with a long-term contract that includes a ton of guaranteed money.

Perhaps the six-year, $80 million extension that Justin Morneau signed in 2008 could serve as a blueprint.

It was a team-friendly pact for the recent MVP, entering his first year of arbitration. But Morneau had taken a fastball to the helmet very early in his major-league career, so he saw the virtues of a safe play.

Incidentally, the decision worked out quite well in this case; Morneau earned $29 million in 2011 and 2012 while struggling to return from that fateful 2010 concussion. Had he simply taken an arbitration buyout, a la Dozier, the first baseman would've hit free agency for the first time in the wake of that brain injury.

There's a decent chance Buxton will rise quickly to a level that Morneau and Dozier – both undoubtedly all-time Twins greats – could never touch.

But as another all-time Twins great and center fielder once said, tomorrow is never promised to any of us. So Buxton has all the reason in the world to be open-minded if the team is approaching with a career-making contract.

And on the franchise's end, there should be little hesitance to offer a hell of a lot to make it worth his while. Byron Buxton is a player you go all in on.

  • Cory Engelhardt, h2oface, Monkeypaws and 6 others like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

65 Comments

Photo
Nick Nelson
Jan 12 2018 11:25 AM

 

If the team believes in its forecasts for their various players (or, more importantly, the various forecasts contain assumptions about risk), then they can save a lot of money that can be put to other uses. If they wait until the forecasts come true, there is not much scope for them to offer the trade-off of risk relief to the player for salary relief to the team.

Well put!!

 

 

Not solely on offense...Offense is his problem.He has not yet produced a MLB-average full season.Not sure whether he would be Vince Coleman or Ricky Henderson at this point, and I would have a hard time arguing for Vince Coleman's extension.Gold glove defense aside. 

He also just turned 24. The problem with this "wait and see" approach is that if you wait one more year, and Buxton turns in the kind of 2018 season many of us (including myself) envision, it's a different ballgame this time next year. That's kind of the point with this post, and the other situations referenced.

 

The Twins locked up Dozier ahead of his true breakout, at a time where he hadn't posted an OPS over 762 and was hardly a star yet. Being proactive and anticipating his continued improvement saved them many millions. Meanwhile, Morneau went from laggard to MVP at age 25. How much more could they have saved if they extended him long-term ahead of that 2006 season?

 

I dunno, with all due respect, saying "wait until he proves he's worth a lot of money and then pay him a lot of money" is not shrewd analysis. That kind of simplistic thinking is not what this front office was brought in for. And given that you were advocating not so long ago for trading Buxton and replacing him with Granite, I'm not sure you fully recognize the value Buck already brings and the likelihood that he's going to be a top-tier player in this league. 

    • snepp, NapoleonComplex, Taildragger8791 and 3 others like this
Photo
Matthew Lenz
Jan 12 2018 12:01 PM

I'm in the camp of extending Buxton ASAP.It's fair to confidently think that he will continue to improve on the offensive end, but with his defense being what it is...he can provide similar overall value as an above average to elite offensive player.

 

He's always going to have injury concerns because of his play style.Last thing we want is for him to change how he plays the game.

    • bighat likes this

Superstar youngsters aren't signing these types of deals anymore, for good reason. If I was the Twins, I'd certainly want to do this deal, but if Buxton is even "meh" on offense, he'll get more than 30MM a year on the open market by the time he's a FA. If I'm him, I don't sign for two reasons:

 

1. I bet I can make a lot more in FA.

2. The Twins have shown no signs of spending money on FAs to win. Nor have they traded to add ML talent. I'm not sure they'll ever go all in, so why would I stay?

    • gunnarthor, markos, Hosken Bombo Disco and 2 others like this
Photo
ashburyjohn
Jan 12 2018 12:11 PM

Coleman is probably a good comp for Billy Hamilton.

Perhaps a Billy Hamilton who somehow forgot his skills and played a below-average LF instead of above-average CF.

    • jorgenswest, nicksaviking and snepp like this
Photo
KirbyDome89
Jan 12 2018 12:23 PM

 

Based on second halves, why not extend Gibson then?  

 

And it is not that simple.He is extremely inconsistent, had a great September of 2016 and then cooled off again.Not sure what we are seeing is not a mirage.  

 

Let's see him have a quality 1st half next season, and then let's talk about extensions or not.There is replacement who will be ready before he runs out of team control...

You could easily say the same thing about Rosario. He certainly was helped by a hot August/September last year. He has had his own issues with consistency and there are other obvious warts. Why is he an extension candidate but Buxton isn't? 

    • gunnarthor likes this

Buxton has yet to establish a baseline or floor on his production. Is he a career player like the first half or second half? You can't offer a long term extension based only on half a season's worth of production. He won't accept a contract based on his first half and the team cannot offer a contract based only on the second half.

 

If you wait until numbers are exchanged in the first year of arbitration, you will find out what kind of numbers the player is looking for. At worst the team will be on the hook for a single year contract based on his actual production in comparison to other players of similar age and skill. A long term extension can then be negotiated with an idea of what both sides are looking for.

 

Buxton also ended the year with an injury. It would be hard to sign a long term contract with an injured player without seeing if that injury had affected his play.

 

Honestly, until the owners step up and show what kind of payroll this team can support, I don't think there is any reason for Buxton to sign longterm. He makes minimum this year and then has three arb years left. He could realistically make 40m in just those three arb years without locking himself to the team. 

First arb year - 4-7m

second arbyear - 11-16m

third arb year - 16-20+

 

Charlie Blackmon just got 14m in his third year, Donaldson just got 23m! Machado is going to the arbitrator b/c he couldn't come to an agreement but he'll easily get 20m, I'd bet. Salaries are sky rocketing. And as a FA at 28, he should bet on himself at this point.

    • Mike Sixel, h2oface, Hosken Bombo Disco and 3 others like this
It's probably already too late to get a reasonably priced extension done. But if Buxton is willing, Falvine better be all iver this.
    • nicksaviking, Hosken Bombo Disco, Platoon and 4 others like this

 

It's probably already too late to get a reasonably priced extension done. But if Buxton is willing, Falvine better be all iver this.

 

I read that as "all liver" and could not figure out what that meant!

    • Carole Keller, USAFChief, HitInAPinch and 1 other like this

 


The Twins locked up Dozier ahead of his true breakout, at a time where he hadn't posted an OPS over 762 and was hardly a star yet.

 

I would have zero objections if they locked him up to a Dozier-like deal ;)

 

 

 

I don't think you'll ever get Sano to sign an early deal like that.

 

Got to try before you try Buxton.If for no other reason that there is no obvious replacement for him in the organization, where there likely is for Buxton...

    • HitInAPinch likes this
I won't even begin to try and put numbers on a Buxton extension. But as a general point, if I was going to extend anyone, maybe anyone in MLB, it would be him. His ceiling is stratospheric. And his floor is only going to be determined with an injury, which is unforseeable. His defense is already elite, as is his speed and baserunning. His hitting may not end up elite, but I bet there will be a lot of guys on the stat sheets looking up at him. As for whom, Buxton or Sano to tie down first? I don't see that as much of a decision. Injuries and other issues have riddled Sano with question marks. He, not Buxton would be the one I let settle in for a year. Btw, I totally agree with the poster that said without some more quality pitching, this whole conversation may be irrelevant.
    • h2oface likes this
Photo
ashburyjohn
Jan 12 2018 03:11 PM

 there is no obvious replacement for him in the organization, where there likely is for Buxton...

Small Sample Size, sliced-and-diced stats, yadda yadda yadda, but...

 

Didn't the team make a post-season push, sans Sano? His game log on b-r.com shows the team went 58-56 with him, marginally better at 27-21 without.

 

Whereas with Buxton in the lineup, even with the horrific start at the plate, they went 77-63 with him, and a putrid 8-14 when he was out.

 

Looks like the Twins managed to find players to fill in for Sano, while they struggled to find a way to replace Buxton. The data, insufficient though it may be, points in the other direction you suggest. Is Granite an obvious replacement for Buxton? Hardly. Who else we got knocking on the door?

    • Nick Nelson, Platoon and Broker like this

 

Small Sample Size, sliced-and-diced stats, yadda yadda yadda, but...

 

Didn't the team make a post-season push, sans Sano? His game log on b-r.com shows the team went 58-56 with him, 27-21 without.

 

Whereas with Buxton in the lineup, even with the horrific start at the plate, they went 77-63 with him and a putrid 8-14 when he was out.

 

The data, insufficient though it may be, points in the other direction as to which player is more indispensable. Is Granite an obvious replacement for Buxton? Hardly. Who else we got knocking on the door?

 

 

Second part of the post:

Royce Lewis will likely be ready within the 4 years of Buxton control.

 

First part of the post:

Counter arguments (SSS and all.)

 

1. if Sano were not a monster in the first half, the Twins would not be close to making the post season

2. if Buxton was playing at 20% below league average offensively in the first half the Twins would not have to be sellers at the break, thus potentially going further in the post-season.

Really the bottom line is that Sano is more irreplaceable that Buxton, based on who is around in the Twins' organization.Top 5 exit velocity does not grow on trees.What Buxton brings on the table does not either, but Royce Lewis brings the same skill set as well.If I were to dangle someone in a trade a couple years from now (with Lewis being there) it would be Buxton because there is ready substitute.

 

    • HitInAPinch likes this
Photo
ashburyjohn
Jan 12 2018 03:41 PM

1) Royce Lewis will likely be ready within the 4 years of Buxton control.

 

2) Top 5 exit velocity does not grow on trees.What Buxton brings on the table does not either

1) Your take on Royce Lewis, while hardly crackpot, is a thread-the-needle combination of pessimism (over his glove at SS) and optimism (his glove in CF plus his bat) and exact timing. I wouldn't personally base contract decisions on someone two years away - we've seen the damage of decisions made under the assumption that guys like Aaron Hicks will arrive exactly on time as though riding the morning light rail into Target Field.

 

2) That is a more favorable view of Buxton than I recall seeing from you, and I am content to close by accepting your view of both players, and to agree to disagree on how you and I would both implement contract decisions based on that view.. I can think of holes to poke in my own 2017 season argument that you were too polite to mention, and I could work up a rebuttal to yours, to little value to anyone. :)

    • Mike Sixel, kab21 and Platoon like this

 

I don't see how those are even comparable. Gibson is 30 and his brief periods of success basically amount to league average performance for a month or so at a time. He's never going to cost a fortune if he finally clicks, so there's not much of an advantage for the Twins to lock him up. He doesn't even have a ceiling as an all star.

 

Buxton is 24 with a crazy high ceiling and already is elite on D and the basepaths. If he starts hitting consistently over a full season then his contract demands will skyrocket 6 months from now. By the time you've waited for him to prove it he's got the leverage to jack his price up 50%.

 

I don't think you'll ever get Sano to sign an early deal like that. There's a reason he went to Roc Nation as soon as he could. He's got his sights set on big things and taking a cheap deal to get locked up in Minnesota through his prime isn't part of that. That, and I have a suspicion he sees himself as more like Harper/Machado than as the "3 true outcomes" injury-prone slugger he's shown to be so far. The value gap between those two types of players is too enormous to close right now.

You just made a great case for why it makes sense to trade Sano as soon as trading him makes sense.Unfortunately, with the injury and his off field problem it is going to be July at the earliest that the Twins may be able to get fair value.

Photo
HitInAPinch
Jan 12 2018 04:20 PM

"$100-110 million for 7 years or $80-90 million for 6 "

 

I'm in the IDK Camp.I'd like to see another year of improvement at the plate to seal the deal.But you can't ignore the improvements at the plate over the years.If Buxton's improvement continues next season, he could be a very sought after commodity around the All Star Break.  

 

Twins have got to resign him, that's a given.

 

    • Broker likes this

 

 Your take on Royce Lewis, while hardly crackpot, is a thread-the-needle combination of pessimism (over his glove at SS) and optimism (his glove in CF plus his bat) and exact timing. I wouldn't personally base contract decisions on someone two years away - we've seen the damage of decisions made under the assumption that guys like Aaron Hicks will arrive exactly on time as though riding the morning light rail into Target Field.

 

Why do I see Lewis at CF vs SS?Wander Javier. These guys are at the same level at pretty much the same age and will be ready about the same time.Javier's arm is stronger, Lewis can probably cover more land as an OF. That's why.Both of these guys have top 20 prospect written all over them.

 

The point with Lewis (and Javier) is that because the Twins have 4 yrs of team control on Buxton and do not have to make a decision until 2-3 years from now, they can make this decision based on how Lewis (and Javier) develop, especially given the fact that Buxton has not have sustained success with the bat.Yet.

 

Hicks was not ready.He is now.

Photo
terrydactyls1947
Jan 12 2018 04:45 PM

Really the bottom line is that Sano is more irreplaceable that Buxton, based on who is around in the Twins' organization. 


It is also very difficult to get much value from a player who may be either suspended or in jail for sexual assault. I would not offer Sano any long-term deal until he gets himself straightened out.
Photo
Hosken Bombo Disco
Jan 12 2018 05:04 PM

Good points being made in this thread. It's quite possible that early extensions for top players will not be as cheap as they were in yesteryear, if they continue to exist at all. 

 

If the FO can get one done, great. If it means paying Buxton near-market a couple years from now, so be it. 

    • beckmt and Danchat like this

 

It is also very difficult to get much value from a player who may be either suspended or in jail for sexual assault. I would not offer Sano any long-term deal until he gets himself straightened out.

 

A. It is an allegation from one person that the MLB is examining.I'd wait to pronounce him guilty before he is found as such.

B. There is zero probability that he will end up "in jail", since there was no police report filed before the statute of limitations expired for those alleged "crimes".

 

    • rdehring likes this
Photo
nicksaviking
Jan 12 2018 05:05 PM

Why do I see Lewis at CF vs SS? Wander Javier. These guys are at the same level at pretty much the same age and will be ready about the same time. Javier's arm is stronger, Lewis can probably cover more land as an OF. That's why. Both of these guys have top 20 prospect written all over them.

The point with Lewis (and Javier) is that because the Twins have 4 yrs of team control on Buxton and do not have to make a decision until 2-3 years from now, they can make this decision based on how Lewis (and Javier) develop, especially given the fact that Buxton has not have sustained success with the bat. Yet.

Hicks was not ready. He is now.

Lewis and Javier are 18-19 and in the lower minor leagues. What are the odds the both pan out? 15-20% max?
    • USAFChief likes this

 

Lewis and Javier are 18-19 and in the lower minor leagues. What are the odds the both pan out? 15-20% max?

 

You got 3 years to see how it goes, before you make any decisions on Buxton.

 

You got 3 years to see how it goes, before you make any decisions on Buxton.

 

By then you either won't be able to afford him, or he isn't worth keeping. I can't see a good argument for not doing the "cheap" extension, from the Twins' side, at all. Unless you are totally risk adverse, there does not seem to be a good reason not to sign him and buy out years. 

    • Platoon and Don Walcott like this

Moneywise, much better to give Buxton a gradually increasing long-term deal than shoot the wad on a free-agent that will command top dollar from start to finish. If he busts, which is unlikely, your losses will be much easier to recoup than 25x6 type deals, which a logical extension for BB would never approach. 

 

If he plays up to expectations, you got a deal.


Similar Articles


by Cody Christie , Yesterday, 09:46 PM
Photo


by John Bonnes , 17 Jun 2018
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 17 Jun 2018
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 15 Jun 2018
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 11 Jun 2018
Photo