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What Kind of Return Would You Need to Trade Byron Buxton?


If Buxton is made out of glass and not worthy of a big contract, but he is very worthy right now, keep him until the end of his current contract.

 

If he is not worthy of a big contract, he won't net a big return in a trade.

He’ll still get a fairly lucrative contract in free agency. There’s no question he’s a valuable player in the games he’s available. Teams with larger budgets will be able to take the $25-30 million AAV risk and benefit whether he plays 80% of the games or 50% of the games. Teams like the Twins can’t afford that luxury. If we’re paying Buxton $30 million and he’s missing half of the games that would derail the season(s).

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He’ll still get a fairly lucrative contract in free agency. There’s no question he’s a valuable player in the games he’s available. Teams with larger budgets will be able to take the $25-30 million AAV risk and benefit whether he plays 80% of the games or 50% of the games. Teams like the Twins can’t afford that luxury. If we’re paying Buxton $30 million and he’s missing half of the games that would derail the season(s).

 

The Cubs opened wallet wide for Yu Darvish in spite of his injury risk, though there was some buyer's remorse there as he has since been traded. I would guess the Cubs are still on the hook for part of the contract, but I haven't looked. The point is, the market may have changed for risky players.

 

Of course, if Buxton plays 120+ games and plays near his peak ability for the next two years, he will make some major bank.

 

I think we can agree Buxton will get an above-average contract somewhere, even if the next two years are just more of the same.

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They gave extensions to Polanco, Kepler, Sano and for some reason Dobnak, while for reasons we'll likely never know, they couldn't do the same with the two players who mattered most. Seems to me there are now really only two options, cross our fingers and hope our square pieces find a way into the round holes, or regroup and re-engineer this club to better succeed in this ever changing game.

 

The reasonable explanation is that those 4 guys knew well enough not to bet on themselves and took the guaranteed money while they still had the 'potential' label on them. Buxton and Berrios know that they have much more talent and the ability to realize it enough to get paid big if they just keep progressing and stay healthy.

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I do not know the price.  As great as he is doing, and he has shown stretches similar to this in the past, but this time he looks like a changed hitter.  I would first want to assess his if he would take a lower year deal for higher money, say like a 5 year deal.  I would not give Buxton anything more than 5 unless there are club options at the end.  

 

I have advocated for years that I expect his production to drop off a ton when his speed drops off, but lately it is not just his speed getting it done, so possible he will age better than before.  Either way I worry about his mid-30's being low value.  

 

If he is seeking 10 year deal, I look for a team that is willing to deal some top MLB ready prospects.  Both pitching and hitting.  We have hopefully a couple of guys that can play CF for years to come, provided Lewis pans out after his injury, if he does not stay at SS.  

 

I bet this FO does better job of trading guys at peak value than like Ryan who would sign guys after career years to bad deals.  I do not know who would be looking for Buxton, and not saying we need to trade him, but if a good offer comes along either during year if we keep doing poorly or in offseason I would not be upset by it.  

 

Look at Lindor right now, he signed 10 year deal in his year 27 season and having his worst year so far.  Maybe he will bounce back, but point is there is never a guarantee any player will be amazing and if it is always better to trade them a year early than a year late. 

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The Cubs opened wallet wide for Yu Darvish in spite of his injury risk, though there was some buyer's remorse there as he has since been traded. I would guess the Cubs are still on the hook for part of the contract, but I haven't looked. The point is, the market may have changed for risky players.

 

Of course, if Buxton plays 120+ games and plays near his peak ability for the next two years, he will make some major bank.

 

I think we can agree Buxton will get an above-average contract somewhere, even if the next two years are just more of the same.

Yeah, I think there will be 2 very interesting use cases in 2022 free agency with Buxton and Aaron Judge. Both have the talent and production* to get Harper and Machado type money. And both can not stay on the field for long periods of time.

 

*production when they’re healthy

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The core of players we saw have career years in 2019 (Kepler, Polanco) have not been the same players since. And why we’re in this position as an underperforming 11-19 team.

Below are all stats from Nick Nelson’s Twitter, not accounting for today’s game.

“In 2019, Max Kepler hit 36 home runs and slugged .519. Then, he homered in his first 2 PAs of 2020.

Since then, he's hitting .213/.302/.370 with 7 HRs in 268 PAs. As a starting right fielder.”

“ Jorge Polanco -- starting SS in the 2019 All-Star Game -- has hit .242/.294/.339 since start of 2020. His 75 wRC+ span ranks 138th out of 148 qualified MLB players during that span.”

Sano didn’t have a career year in 2019, but was still signed to a medium term contract extension. He’s been mostly lousy since signing that contract.

I agree with MLR that it’s too early for the Twins to have this discussion of trading Buxton. Do I think they’ll actually trade him? Probably not this year. Still, it’s not off limits for fans to start thinking ahead if this indeed a year we miss the playoffs. I think they should seriously consider the opportunity cost at play.

Buxton for 2 years and a competitive balance pick when he leaves.

Vs.

The potentially solid return for 1.5 years of Buxton this July, or the more modest return of Buxton as a rental next year.

Based on 2021 batted balls

Polanco's expected batting average is .271 and expected slugging is .462

 

compare that to 2019

polanco's expected batting average was .267 and expected slug was .457

 

BABIP comparison

2019- .328

2021 - .247

 

 

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The Cubs opened wallet wide for Yu Darvish in spite of his injury risk, though there was some buyer's remorse there as he has since been traded. I would guess the Cubs are still on the hook for part of the contract, but I haven't looked. The point is, the market may have changed for risky players.

Cubs only sent a nominal amount of cash to San Diego in that deal: $3 mil out of $62 mil remaining. I suspect it was to cover the $3 mil bonus Darvish was due to receive for his 2nd place Cy Young finish in 2020.

 

And it seems the Cubs' primary "buyer's remorse" was about their team's overall ability to compete in 2021, rather than anything specific to Darvish or his contract.

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Based on 2021 batted balls

Polanco's expected batting average is .271 and expected slugging is .462

 

compare that to 2019

polanco's expected batting average was .267 and expected slug was .457

 

BABIP comparison

2019- .328

2021 - .247

I see there’s a new twist to the old Ricky Nolasco argument. His FIP was always better than his ERA. At what point does their actual performance matter over their “expected” performance?

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I see there’s a new twist to the old Ricky Nolasco argument. His FIP was always better than his ERA. At what point does their actual performance matter over their “expected” performance?

When he breaks out you can pretend that he "figured it out" or speculate on what changed but the numbers were there all along.

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He’ll still get a fairly lucrative contract in free agency. There’s no question he’s a valuable player in the games he’s available. Teams with larger budgets will be able to take the $25-30 million AAV risk and benefit whether he plays 80% of the games or 50% of the games. Teams like the Twins can’t afford that luxury. If we’re paying Buxton $30 million and he’s missing half of the games that would derail the season(s).

That's a good question, perhaps they get the big salary per year, but only get 4/5 year deals? Something like 5/$150M?

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I see there’s a new twist to the old Ricky Nolasco argument. His FIP was always better than his ERA. At what point does their actual performance matter over their “expected” performance?

The thing is that those guys are really rare, though, and I haven't seen any sign that FIP and xBA share those same outliers.

 

But one thing to consider is that while FIP is generally a good predictor (better than ERA, anyway), xBA only records what already happened. Past performance does not guarantee future results and all that. If the guy is an extreme outlier, it may show predictive signs but Polanco is absolutely trash from the left side of the plate and has been for a long time now. That needs to change before his stat line improves enough to even be acceptable. Just take a look at his statcast averages, they ain't promising.

 

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/jorge-polanco-593871?stats=statcast-r-hitting-mlb

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Imagine the comment threads if we did resign him long term two seasons ago.

 

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Twins did not work out a contract for Buxton.  He would have been really dumb to accept a team friendly deal given his ability.  The Twins would have been really dumb to give him a player friendly deal given his past performance and especially injury history.  Neither side would have met in the middle of what they perceived the value to have been 2 years ago because there was good reason for both to be so far off.

 

For as good as he has been we are still waiting to see if he can get his second season with 100+ games. He has been injured twice already this season but luckily both appear to be minor.

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Cubs only sent a nominal amount of cash to San Diego in that deal: $3 mil out of $62 mil remaining. I suspect it was to cover the $3 mil bonus Darvish was due to receive for his 2nd place Cy Young finish in 2020.

 

And it seems the Cubs' primary "buyer's remorse" was about their team's overall ability to compete in 2021, rather than anything specific to Darvish or his contract.

 

The Cubs sell out games even when they don't play well, and even though they play a large number of games in the afternoon when people should be working or in school. This means the pandemic hurt them more than it hurt other teams, of course, but the in normal times the Cubs would not have to cut loose someone like Darvish because they are not fielding a playoff team.

 

But really we are saying the same thing, just attacking it from different angles. The Cubs realized they overpaid.

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It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Twins did not work out a contract for Buxton.  He would have been really dumb to accept a team friendly deal given his ability.  The Twins would have been really dumb to give him a player friendly deal given his past performance and especially injury history.  Neither side would have met in the middle of what they perceived the value to have been 2 years ago because there was good reason for both to be so far off.

Am I quibbling to suggest "far apart" instead of "far off"? IMO a risky high-end player like Buxton is literally worth a lot more to a rich team than to the ones in the middle or below. Both scenarios you describe could be perfectly accurate from their respective perspectives.

 

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The Cubs sell out games even when they don't play well, and even though they play a large number of games in the afternoon when people should be working or in school. This means the pandemic hurt them more than it hurt other teams, of course, but the in normal times the Cubs would not have to cut loose someone like Darvish because they are not fielding a playoff team.

 

But really we are saying the same thing, just attacking it from different angles. The Cubs realized they overpaid.

 

The Cubs overpaid for Darvish? I would assume then your argument is that no pitcher is worth the contract he got?

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The Cubs sell out games even when they don't play well, and even though they play a large number of games in the afternoon when people should be working or in school. This means the pandemic hurt them more than it hurt other teams, of course, but the in normal times the Cubs would not have to cut loose someone like Darvish because they are not fielding a playoff team.

 

But really we are saying the same thing, just attacking it from different angles. The Cubs realized they overpaid.

 

Then why did a team trade for him, and not get any real money back? The Cubs didn't overpay for him, their team isn't that good, so they traded him to add assets. 

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Am I quibbling to suggest "far apart" instead of "far off"? IMO a risky high-end player like Buxton is literally worth a lot more to a rich team than to the ones in the middle or below. Both scenarios you describe could be perfectly accurate from their respective perspectives.
 

I did mean far off as in how far apart the two sides likely were, not to suggest that either side was wrong. 

 

Yeah a rich team would be more willing to make that bet.  Realistically the Twins probably wouldn't have gone much further than what they gave Kepler for a Buxton deal.  I think both sides came to the conclusion that the early re-sign was not in the cards, both sides needed to see/do more to get what they wanted.

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Then why did a team trade for him, and not get any real money back? The Cubs didn't overpay for him, their team isn't that good, so they traded him to add assets. 

 

Or, the market still believes Darvish is worth the value.

 

Many in Twins Daily-land have blinders on when it comes to Darvish being injury prone. I would guess San Diego is smarter than that, and simply believes Darvish is worth the risk. That's a fair argument. I would not take on that risk, but I would not fault other GMs for feeling he is worth it.

 

Nevertheless, this is a conversation about large contracts for injury-prone players. 

It should not be lost on anyone that the Cubs let Arrieta go in order to get Darvish, only to then get Arrieta back and trade Darvish. Strange decisions, yes, but the Cubs might have the best bullpen in the league so heck, why not.
 

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Buxton is in a little bit of a slump at the moment now that I look at it.  I didn't expect him to be the monster he was in April but not as bad his May has been either.  Its still too early to take stats too seriously.

 

April 68 at bats  (74% of his at bats)

.426/.466/1.363 8 HR 20.5K% wRC+ 279

 

May 24 at bats (26% of his AB)

.208/.240/.417 1 HR 32.0K% wRC+ 81

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The thing is that those guys are really rare, though, and I haven't seen any sign that FIP and xBA share those same outliers.

 

But one thing to consider is that while FIP is generally a good predictor (better than ERA, anyway), xBA only records what already happened. Past performance does not guarantee future results and all that. If the guy is an extreme outlier, it may show predictive signs but Polanco is absolutely trash from the left side of the plate and has been for a long time now. That needs to change before his stat line improves enough to even be acceptable. Just take a look at his statcast averages, they ain't promising.

 

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/jorge-polanco-593871?stats=statcast-r-hitting-mlb

I always say that using old stats like wins, ERA, runs, RBI, etc. is like a gambler going to a slot machine that just paid off and saying "this machine is hot."  When they should be playing blackjack.

 

I think those stats are important but they rely heavily on other factors rather than the players ability.

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That's a good question, perhaps they get the big salary per year, but only get 4/5 year deals? Something like 5/$150M?

Probably not. The top free agents have been signing long term deals regardless of past injury history. Maybe he has an opt out built into the deal but he’ll more than likely get 8+ years if there aren’t changes in the new CBA.

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The thing is that those guys are really rare, though, and I haven't seen any sign that FIP and xBA share those same outliers.

 

But one thing to consider is that while FIP is generally a good predictor (better than ERA, anyway), xBA only records what already happened. Past performance does not guarantee future results and all that. If the guy is an extreme outlier, it may show predictive signs but Polanco is absolutely trash from the left side of the plate and has been for a long time now. That needs to change before his stat line improves enough to even be acceptable. Just take a look at his statcast averages, they ain't promising.

 

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/jorge-polanco-593871?stats=statcast-r-hitting-mlb

My fault for assuming xBA is a predictive stat for future performance. Thanks for explaining what it means.

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itt: people unwilling to accept that we are quickly approaching if not at firesale mode

 

im curious what actual packages people come up with; often times ideas on here play out somewhat closely. If we traded not just buxton, but buxton+, and/or berrios+, it would blow, but the returns would be enormous. I haven't followed the minors for awhile, but I know some of you guys more tuned in are scheming up packages. what have you got?

 

note: I live in st Paul and am most excited about saints games this year, so for once prospects excite me more than the team

 

edit to add: I am thinking there must be teams that have guys in the high a-aa range that are possibly moving to triple a this year. or guys that are knocking on the door already and buxton would replace them 

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Is there a top free agent that has signed long-term with anything comparable to Buxton's current history of missed time?

Don’t know. Probably not? Free agency hasn’t been a gold mine in recent years and that’s a specific, time consuming rabbit hole to find an example in the past. I posted before I think Aaron Judge will be a good use case along with Buxton. Carlos Correa fits the mold too.

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What has Buxton's price gone up to these days. Five years $100 million with an option year or two? Would Berrios be pushing similar territory?

 

Wasn't the whole purpose of Target Field was to create a revenue stream to keep your own free agents (pandemic aside). 

 

Yes, Buxton has to fight the full-season image, but you can move him to a corner at some point. He could also come up lame. Come mid-July if he keeps close to this pace, what kind of haul would get, mostly prospects - and we know how that pans out.

 

But, yes, right now he has the most value ever!

And a day later he's injured. This man's worth is confusing beyond what I can deal with.

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My fault for assuming xBA is a predictive stat for future performance. Thanks for explaining what it means.

It *can* be a predictive tool, I just don't believe it's particularly good at it most of the time.

 

But in the case of a wild outlier case, like Kirilloff was a couple of weeks ago, it seems to be pretty good at predicting that the ship will right itself if all continues as it is.

 

In the case of a guy like Polanco, I suspect it's extremely vulnerable to misinterpretation, as Polanco is hot garbage from one side of the plate and it's not as if he's going to normalize those PAs in time. If he's just getting unlucky from the right side of the plate, the xBA may not properly reflect that he only bats from that side of the plate ~40% of the time and that those ~60% of hot garbage PAs will never go away (and will likely only grow in time because teams will stack relievers against him intentionally).

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Don’t know. Probably not? Free agency hasn’t been a gold mine in recent years and that’s a specific, time consuming rabbit hole to find an example in the past. I posted before I think Aaron Judge will be a good use case along with Buxton. Carlos Correa fits the mold too.

Not trying to send anyone down a rabbit hole, I was genuinely curious. I found this list of the top 100 all-time deals by total value and clicked the years column to sort them by length:

 

https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/contracts/sort-value/all-time/limit-100/

 

I think just about everyone on this list was significantly ahead of Buxton's durability, at the time they signed their deals. JD Martinez missed time but he had been an OF and was signing to become a primary DH. Ellsbury had a reputation of missing time, but when he signed his 7 year deal, he basically had 4 seasons equal to Buxton's lone "full" season so far -- he had missed one full season and another half season, but wasn't consistently held back every year at the time.

 

Unless Buxton suddenly channels Cal Ripken Jr. between now and the end of 2022, I think the market takes durability into account enough to prevent him from getting an 8-year deal. He can still get big money and a good number of years, but probably short of 8.

 

Correa could be an interesting comp, although I think at least part of the reason that he and Judge haven't signed extensions is their lack of durability so far.

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