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.