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Article: The Time For A Buxton Extension Is Now

byron buxton brian dozier
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 01:56 AM

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.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.

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#2 laloesch

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 06:27 AM

Personally, I'd like to see one more season of sustained quality hitting from him before pulling the trigger.  

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#3 Tommygun921

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 06:36 AM

It would probably cost the Twins more money by waiting until next off season, but I'd feel much better by waiting until next off season. It'd give the Twins more time to judge what kind of player he's going to be. I believe it's the player he was the 2nd half of last year. But he's also been streaky and prone to injury with his aggressive style of play. I think have that extra piece of mind would be worth the extra money it may cost. That being said he'll also be one year closer to free agency and may not be interested in an extension.

#4 rdehring

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 07:04 AM

I read somewhere a few weeks ago that the Twins weren't going to be extending anyone this winter.Rather, they were waiting until spring training to do so.

 

Put me in the extend him this year camp, with at least a couple extra years beyond arbitration.


#5 071063

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 08:01 AM

Get the extension done!He's only getting better and it's going to get much more expensive moving forward.Now is the time!

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#6 nytwinsfan

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 08:24 AM

Absolutely do this now. 100%. I'd go for 7 or 8 years and fall back to 6 if necessary. 7 years would would buyout 3 years of FA through the 18, 19, 20, 21 controlled season and the 22, 23 and 24 FA seasons. Buxton would then be 31 during his first FA season in 2025.

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#7 Thrylos

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 08:37 AM

No way.He has not cracked OPS of .750 or OPS+ of 100 for a full season yet.Which means that he have been below average with the bat.If he gets to OPS+ of 100+ for a full season, then he should be extended, after players who have been there and done that (Sano and Rosario) are extended...

Cannot extend Buxton before they extend Sano.

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#8 Doomtints

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 08:47 AM

I love the idea of getting the cornerstone players on long contracts, but I feel like doing this without addressing the pitching is a waste of time. 

 

Buxton will get a long term deal at some point.

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#9 nytwinsfan

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 08:51 AM

 

No way.He has not cracked OPS of .750 or OPS+ of 100 for a full season yet.Which means that he have been below average with the bat.If he gets to OPS+ of 100+ for a full season, then he should be extended, after players who have been there and done that (Sano and Rosario) are extended...

Cannot extend Buxton before they extend Sano.

I don't get it. Do you think defensive and baserunning value are made up concepts that have no basis in reality Thrylos? Why would you possibly decide on a player's value solely based on offense?

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#10 Doomtints

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:07 AM

 

No way.He has not cracked OPS of .750 or OPS+ of 100 for a full season yet.Which means that he have been below average with the bat.If he gets to OPS+ of 100+ for a full season, then he should be extended, after players who have been there and done that (Sano and Rosario) are extended...

Cannot extend Buxton before they extend Sano.

 

Based on his oWAR of 2.7, the only two players who had a better year offensively for the Twins are Dozier and Sano. 

Plus, Buxton is still getting better. If you are going to use OPS as your measurement (which is fair enough), Buxton had a .583 OPS in the first half and a .893 OPS in the second half.

I understand that we want to see consistency, but all signs indicate that he is continuing to improve offensively. His work ethic is just too insane for a big fall off to happen. The concern is injuries. If he puts up another 135+ games next year, good enough ... think about extending him. Good things will happen with Buxton in a Twins uniform.

Edited by Doomtints, 12 January 2018 - 09:10 AM.

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#11 TwinsWonWithHunter

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:12 AM

Buxton sure looks like he will be a superstar. But, let's face it: he has only hit well in 1 month of one season (2016), and 3 months of another (2017). And for the first 90 games last year - no small sample - he was utterly lost at the plate. So let's not roll out the anointing oils just yet. Let him hit like a real big leaguer for a full year first.

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#12 ashburyjohn

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:16 AM

Personally, I'd like to see one more season of sustained quality hitting from him before pulling the trigger.  

The price of perfect information is quite high in a free market. This not being exactly a free market... the price is still quite high.

 

The larger entity, namely the team, is always better placed to take on the risk, since they can spread it out over multiple players contracts. The player has only one life to live.

 

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.

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#13 Doomtints

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:17 AM

 

The price of perfect information is quite high in a free market. This not being exactly a free market... the price is still quite high.

 

The larger entity, namely the team, is always better placed to take on the risk, since they can spread it out over multiple players contracts. The player has only one life to live. If the team believes in its forecasts for their various players, 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 reduction for salary reduction.

 

Absolutely. If the Twins think Buxton will be a star and they think they can field a team that can compete in the playoffs outside of Buxton, seal the deal.

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#14 slash129

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:20 AM

 

No way.He has not cracked OPS of .750 or OPS+ of 100 for a full season yet.Which means that he have been below average with the bat.If he gets to OPS+ of 100+ for a full season, then he should be extended, after players who have been there and done that (Sano and Rosario) are extended...

Cannot extend Buxton before they extend Sano.

 

I would agree if the Twins played in a Draft Kings league.

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#15 markos

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:30 AM

 

Absolutely do this now. 100%. I'd go for 7 or 8 years and fall back to 6 if necessary. 7 years would would buyout 3 years of FA through the 18, 19, 20, 21 controlled season and the 22, 23 and 24 FA seasons. Buxton would then be 31 during his first FA season in 2025.

At what cost? That has to be factored in here. Buxton has already made multi-millions via his signing bonus plus his league-minimum salaries the past few seasons. If you are going to buy out free agent seasons, you'll have to make it worth his while. $150M over those 7 years?

 

Lindor has reportedly turned down a $100M+ offer already. I think the current crop of young stars (Correa, Lindor, Bryant, Seager, et al) are going to push the envelope when it comes to extensions (and at least wait until after Harper/Machado reset the market next year). Also, if Fangraphs has figured out that long-term deals are overwhelmingly good deals for the teams, agents and the players union have probably figured out that out as well. I think the era of extremely team-friendly extensions (like Longoria's first deal or McCutchen's) for superstar players is probably over.

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#16 nytwinsfan

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:59 AM

 

At what cost? That has to be factored in here. Buxton has already made multi-millions via his signing bonus plus his league-minimum salaries the past few seasons. If you are going to buy out free agent seasons, you'll have to make it worth his while. $150M over those 7 years?

 

Lindor has reportedly turned down a $100M+ offer already. I think the current crop of young stars (Correa, Lindor, Bryant, Seager, et al) are going to push the envelope when it comes to extensions (and at least wait until after Harper/Machado reset the market next year). Also, if Fangraphs has figured out that long-term deals are overwhelmingly good deals for the teams, agents and the players union have probably figured out that out as well. I think the era of extremely team-friendly extensions (like Longoria's first deal or McCutchen's) for superstar players is probably over.

 

Yes, I agree that the Twins should take cost into account. I'd probably do up to $100-110 million for 7 years or as Nick suggested, $80-90 million for 6.

Edited by nytwinsfan, 12 January 2018 - 10:00 AM.

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#17 Thrylos

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:00 AM

 

I don't get it. Do you think defensive and baserunning value are made up concepts that have no basis in reality Thrylos? Why would you possibly decide on a player's value solely based on offense?

 

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. 

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#18 Thrylos

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:05 AM

 

 

Plus, Buxton is still getting better. If you are going to use OPS as your measurement (which is fair enough), Buxton had a .583 OPS in the first half and a .893 OPS in the second half.

 

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.Here is his OPS+ by month last 2 seasons:

 

A 2016 37
M 2016 99
J 2016 54
J 2016 71
A 2016 0
S 2016 170
A 2017 24
M 2017 88
J 2017 37
J 2017 160
A 2017 152
S 2017 112

 

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...

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#19 mikelink45

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:08 AM

I feel totally unqualified to respond to the extension calls.I understand the wisdom of this and would not object, but what I am trying to grasp is what markos wrote - what is the changing strategies for agents now.Are extensions still acceptable for them?What is the cost, what are the stipulations.We are still in position where liability is all on the team.There is no penalty for the player who under performs.I know the union addressed the craziness of owners offering reduced contracts when any statistic dropped despite the overall value of the player, but now these extensions like the free agency signings have no safety valve.I wonder if they ever will?


#20 nytwinsfan

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:09 AM

 

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. 

Vince Coleman was never really a plus defender though, just on the basepaths. And Buxton already clearly has much more power than Coleman. Coleman was worth about 11-12 WAR (whether Fangraphs or BR) over his entire career of about 6000 PAs. Buxton has already been worth either 4.6 (fangraphs) or 7.2 (BR) in 1000 PAs. Yes, he has some downside risk (mostly associated with injuries), but he has tons of upside. This isn't even close.

Edited by nytwinsfan, 12 January 2018 - 10:10 AM.

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