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


 

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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Buxton should have been signed 2 years ago, when it was feasible. At the latest, thus past off season.  Whatever window there was to get it done is almost certainly closed.   If the Twins are out of i

An incompetent GM could sign him easily. There is no art at all to asking him "how much do you want?"  

The universe didn't have to be so quick about disproving this hypothetical!

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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So since the question is asking what kind of return I would need for Byron Buxton, I am going to answer it honestly. I am not going to pretend I'm the GM of the Twins.

 

I would need an absolute haul to trade away Byron Buxton. I mean a top 25 prospect, someone in the 50 range, and another in the 100 range. Preferably a SP prospect leading the package. After that I'm asking for a low A SP prospect I like and an 18 year old position player prospect for throw ins.

 

Trading away Buxton right now would be such a gut punch. I came across Twins Daily the year he started with the Kernels. The Twins teams during that time were downright awful. I know we all remember that. To watch this group of guys come up, then to trade Buxton while he's having an MVP caliber season during our playoff window because the team had a very bad 6 week stretch would just be terrible.

 

I know this trade would be rejected. I know his injury history. I know he isn't going to slug .900 every month. I know there have been trades the last couple seasons where good players have been traded with not much in return. There's just no way I'm justifying trading this guy right now.

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