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Byron Buxton Isn’t the Next David Ortiz


It’s becoming one of the most tired takes in Twins Territory. Not every player that can potentially leave the organization is going to turn into the next David Ortiz. So, why doesn’t Byron Buxton fit that mold?

Over the weekend, the Star Tribune sent out a headline to subscribers that said, “Twins can’t let Buxton leave and become their new-age David Ortiz.” For those unfamiliar, the Twins famously non-tendered David Ortiz following the 2002 season. He signed with Boston and went on to have a legendary career culminating in multiple World Series titles, 10 All-Star selections, and seven silver sluggers. It was one of the worst decisions in franchise history, but baseball is a funny game.

Ortiz was a very different player than Byron Buxton when the Twins non-tendered him. From 1997-2002, he averaged 76 games per season with the club and hit .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 169 extra-base hits in 455 games. There were multiple reasons to let Ortiz go, including he was set to make close to $2 million in arbitration, the team had Matt LeCroy to fill the designated hitter role, and they wanted a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick.  

When David Ortiz played his final series in Minnesota, Twins GM Terry Ryan didn’t beat around the bush regarding the Ortiz decision. “Obviously, it’s a situation that I watch, and I’ve observed, and I see what he’s done, and I see what he’s meant to the Boston Red Sox. Ok, I screwed it up.” That’s easy for Ryan to say at this point, but it wasn’t as big of a mistake as it has been made out to be.

Fans know Buxton is good, but Ortiz was still an unknown quantity when he left the organization. In his seventh season, Buxton has played in 38 more games in a Twins uniform than Ortiz. During that time, Buxton has been worth 16.2 WAR while Ortiz was worth 2.6 WAR. Ortiz went on to have four seasons with a 5 WAR or higher, a mark Buxton has yet to reach. 

The Buxton contract discussions seem like a no-win situation for the team’s followers. Fans are going to be disappointed if he leaves and plays well elsewhere. If he stays, fans will expect him to stay healthy and play at an MVP level. Buxton is one of baseball’s best players when he is on the field, and that is something Ortiz couldn’t say during his Twins tenure. 

Baseball is a sport where one move doesn’t alter the course of a franchise. Ortiz’s release was a poor baseball decision at the time, but the Twins were still relevant for nearly a decade after Ortiz left. Nothing says his career would have followed the same trajectory if he had stayed in a Twins uniform. The same unknowns circle around Buxton and his future. 

Every player that leaves Minnesota isn’t going to go on to have a Hall of Fame career. Ortiz is the exception and not the rule. In the end, Buxton’s situation is much more complicated than the decision surrounding Ortiz, and that’s what makes the Buxton decision one of the most intriguing in the months ahead. 

Do you see any connection between the Buxton decision and the Ortiz decision? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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There is no answer to this question - it comes down to a variety of issues:

Do the Twins think he can be healthy?

Does he want to be here?  

Did last place sour him?

Will the Twins meet the demands of the agent?

Is the agent willing to negotiate?

Do we have a CF if he is gone?

What is his market value?

If he leaves will a FA want to come to the club minus its biggest star?

Stay tuned.

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Is Buxton going to go somewhere and load up on PEDS? 

Also, isn't it great how ownership has completely persuaded the fan base that low payrolls were so natural that no one blames the Pohlads for not paying to keep Ortiz and are willing to accept payroll as a reason to not pay Berrios or Buxton?  

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43 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

The Twins aren't going to non-tender Buxton, so it really isn't a comparison. 

The lone comparison is that Ortiz missed a lot of time with knee issues. Simply, he would not have lasted playing on the Metrodome's artificial turf. 

Well, I don't know if the Metrodome turf would have been a major issue. He would have spent the bulk of his time DH'ing so it would only have been while baserunning that it would have come into play.

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1 hour ago, gunnarthor said:

Is Buxton going to go somewhere and load up on PEDS? 

Also, isn't it great how ownership has completely persuaded the fan base that low payrolls were so natural that no one blames the Pohlads for not paying to keep Ortiz and are willing to accept payroll as a reason to not pay Berrios or Buxton?  

? That isn't how most fans here feel about Berrios being traded. 

As for the clickbait title? No. There is no comparison.

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1 hour ago, gunnarthor said:

Is Buxton going to go somewhere and load up on PEDS? 

Also, isn't it great how ownership has completely persuaded the fan base that low payrolls were so natural that no one blames the Pohlads for not paying to keep Ortiz and are willing to accept payroll as a reason to not pay Berrios or Buxton?  

What amount do think the Twins payroll should be set at?  

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The Twins have 2 potential Hall of Famers who started young in Minnesota in the past 40 years, David Ortiz and Joe Mauer. Of course, lost in the conversation is the fact the Twins didn't draft or originally sign Ortiz. He was traded to the Twins from the Seattle Mariners for Dave Hollins. Seattle signed Ortiz as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Part of the obsession with Ortiz is just how terribly the Twins have drafted, developed and retained players across recent baseball history. Had the Twins retained Ortiz and watched him blossom into the hitter he became at Boston, they wouldn't have been able to keep him under contract anyway because they would have lost him to free agency in 2005. I suppose the Twins would have traded Ortiz instead of watching him walk, but the 3 pitch to contact depth arms they would have targeted in exchange would have flopped anyway.

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To compare the two is a poor comparison.  Ortiz was not a top prospect that played elite defense and at times was possible MVP if could just stay healthy.  Health was something that kept Ortiz back, but Buxton will be snatched up in a heart beat if he is not resigned. 

Ortiz was a bench player when the Red Sox signed him to a low paying contract.  It took an injury to their starter to give him a shot and he ran with that.   I did not read the article, but the only comparison I can see is that if Buxton leaves he could have a few great seasons with another team if he can stay on the field, but what led to the non-signing is not the same. 

Yes, Twins made huge mistake of letting Ortiz go, but he may not have become what he did in Boston if he stayed with Twins as well.  Buxton if he stays healthy can be a top player in this league for a few years.  Everyone knows that.  I think Buck will continue to turn down offers unless the bank is broken for him.

He will test FA to see if a team will bet on him staying healthy.  There may be some teams willing to take that bet knowing he is a bonus and not some to count on.  Mid to small market teams cannot plan to pay huge sums to someone that may not play much.  Teams like Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox can pay him large sums and if he only plays 50% of games they are not hurt by it.

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The biggest difference here is the Twins know Buxton is an All Star level talent. He'll likely play at the ceiling of David Ortiz's value every single year where Buxton remains a qualified batter and there is still an outside shot for Buxton making the HoF. 

With Buxton's scorching hot streak to end the season, he once again fanned the flames of his MVP potential and, I believe, altered his potential trade value and contract negotiation strength completely. That's likely great for trading him and not so good for signing him. Somewhere in the 29 other teams across baseball is a front office who will believe Buxton can remain healthy and they'll be tempted to trade the farm for him and Buxton won't have a say in the matter. If the Twins do sign Buxton, the center fielder will have a lot more strength to bend the Twins' offer up in terms of guarantees and the incentives.

The Twins making a bad trade where Buxton lives up to his potential will at least erase the David Ortiz talk. Buxton will be the new worst trade of all time Twins fans quote whenever a player they like leaves the organization for someplace else.

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1 hour ago, yeahyabetcha said:

What amount do think the Twins payroll should be set at?  

I don't want to derail the topic but the Twins said back when payroll was lower than it had to be that they weren't going to spend money just to push payroll up when they had the young guys they wanted to play anyway. They've also said that there wasn't any reason to spend big when we were rebuilding or retooling and we could plug those holes from inside. So we have decades of the team admitting they kept payroll lower than it had to be, even when we were making the playoffs. We've never had a corresponding era of ownership pushing payroll above where it "should" be because it was time to move all in.

Right now, we have an MVP-type player in his prime and a strong offensive nucleus around him. This was the time for ownership to step up and say, "pitching sucked this year, we'll figure it out next year and bring in the arms this team needs to compete." But they didn't. They traded the one good pitcher we had. So payroll should be high enough to keep the window of opportunity open and if FO and ownership mistakes mean that number is raised even higher, so be it. I've spent 30 years listening to this small payroll crap. Until MLB opens their books to the union, cries of poverty are BS. 

Next years payroll should be big enough to sign at least two of Rodon, Gausman, Thor, Stroman, Ray, Scherzer. Plus a guy like Matz and Dylan Bundy. They can go overbudget for a few years, if that's even over budget.

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Very different situations, yes. But similar theme: this organization drafts and acquires talent, that talent struggles here and blossoms elsewhere (sometimes spectacularly so) ... and the Twins end up with very little, if anything, to show for it. When you feed WAR to league opponents, you kill your organization's chances to win.

I disagree with the downplaying of the severity of the Ortiz mistake, though. Yes, the Twins were competitive after losing him, but they never had the "oomph" to get deep into the playoffs. Ortiz provided that "oomph" to Boston ... and likely could have done so here.

I sometimes wonder why I hear "Well, (Player X) would never have had that great year/career in Minnesota" so often without the question Why? Why aren't we having that impact here?

We might be losing Buxton this offseason. It wouldn't be an Ortiz mistake (I assume there would be some kind of trade return), but it would be very hard to watch him play 140+ games and lead another team to an LCS or WS. I'm tired of wondering "what might have been" with this team.

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1 hour ago, gunnarthor said:

I don't want to derail the topic but the Twins said back when payroll was lower than it had to be that they weren't going to spend money just to push payroll up when they had the young guys they wanted to play anyway. They've also said that there wasn't any reason to spend big when we were rebuilding or retooling and we could plug those holes from inside. So we have decades of the team admitting they kept payroll lower than it had to be, even when we were making the playoffs. We've never had a corresponding era of ownership pushing payroll above where it "should" be because it was time to move all in.

Right now, we have an MVP-type player in his prime and a strong offensive nucleus around him. This was the time for ownership to step up and say, "pitching sucked this year, we'll figure it out next year and bring in the arms this team needs to compete." But they didn't. They traded the one good pitcher we had. So payroll should be high enough to keep the window of opportunity open and if FO and ownership mistakes mean that number is raised even higher, so be it. I've spent 30 years listening to this small payroll crap. Until MLB opens their books to the union, cries of poverty are BS. 

Next years payroll should be big enough to sign at least two of Rodon, Gausman, Thor, Stroman, Ray, Scherzer. Plus a guy like Matz and Dylan Bundy. They can go overbudget for a few years, if that's even over budget.

I respect your opinion, but I disagree with almost everything you say and the assumptions you make.

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Something not mentioned yet, but of course most know, is that Big Pappi cleared wavers as every team turned him down. That allowed Boston to sign him on the cheap.

The Bosox won the lottery here similar to the Twins hitting the jackpot with Santana.

If the Twins can't get a deal done they will have some leverage in a trade. While that is going down it will be a **** storm of interweb vitriol.

Be very afraid

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There is no comparison.

Buxton is one of, if not the best player in the game...when on the field.  Ortiz had some pop in his bat, but wasn't much of a prospect as every team passed on him until Boston finally signed him before spring training.  Or had ST already begun?

The Twins could have retained Ortiz at a modest cost.  They chose to move on, which proved to be the wrong decision.  They want to and have tried to retain Buxton, however, have yet to come to an agreement on what will be somewhat of an  unusual contract as incentives will play a larger role than the norm.  Think Maeda's contract, although not that extreme.

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The Twins simply MUST find a way to make Buxton happy with a reasonable "Base" salary and million dollar dollar escalators for every level of games he plays.  For Example:  12-million per year for 7 years.  $2 million bonus for 100 games played.  Another $2 million for 120 games played.  Another $2 million for 140 games played.  $5 million for American league MVP.  $3 Million for a top three finish.  It doesn't have to be THIS example.  But this is where the conversation needs to be.  If Buxton PLAYS he will be PRODUCTIVE.  If he doesn't play, he will still be decently compensated and the Twins have a measure of protection.  It was tough to see Berrios go, but as badly as the Twins need PITCHING, Berrios is in no way CLOSE to Buxton in overall value.  Buxton has MVP potential.  Berrios will never win a CY Young.  I agree with Gunnar Thor's assessment:  The Twins have enough payroll flexibility to go after TWO top line SP's.  They are simply replacing what Berrios should/would have been paid and then they can afford another one.  They need to go HARD after two top shelf SP's.  

As far as Ortiz:  Buxton has true talent.  He won't need to go full on PED'S to amass stats that show his worth.  He just needs to stay healthy and PLAY.  If he plays, the Twins will be very happy with their investment.  The Twins are not that far from being a solid contender again.  Look at the S.F. Giants.  They won 106 games because they signed Gausman and DeSclafani among others and got bounce back seasons from Posey and Crawford.  We signed Happ, Shoemaker and Colome.  If the Twins FO makes a plan and executes it by going after the right players through FA and trades, and the Pohlad's allow them to spend what is necessary the Twins will be right back in the thick of a very winnable A.L. Central.

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The Twins have no choice but to sign Buxton for more than they want to pay and hope he can stay healthy. With the stable of promising pitchers in the minors an elite center fielder like Buxton is essential. If they don’t sign him the message is they are in rebuilding mode and the fan base will suffer. 

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Its the rules of arbitration. Unless you can work a team friendly longterm deal, the player has an advantage going into arbitration. Would the Twins have loved to resign Eddie Rosario for what the Indians signed him for? Of course, probably. Remember that ALL teams but the Red Sox passed on Ortiz, and the Red Sox got him for less than the Twins would've been able to sign him for. That alone, that he passed thru waivers with other teams, speaks of his value at the time. Arbitration doesn't allow you to cut a player's salary, especially because of lost games due to injury. It always gives a raise of sorts. 

 

If you wish to compare Buxton to the Oritz situation in any way, it is that one has a tough time looking at Buxton's track record and saying you want to throw an enormous amount of money his way. Yet there seems little need for Buxton to sign for little or nothing in the grand scheme of things. And the potential to play elsewhere, on a winning and competitive team, is always in the minds of players and their agents.

 

Ortiz as NOT an everyday player, even at DH, and the Twins felt the need to move on. Ortiz was thrown into play where a team suddenly ahs control...take this salary offer or leave it, return to the minors, rebuild from there. That he found a home in Red Sox land and continued to play, largely on decent one-year contracts, and thrive is GOOD for David.

 

Again, back to Rosario. The Twins didn't see him as a $10 million dollar outfielder. They thought he could be replaced. He wasn't. But they couldn't sign him for less.

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26 minutes ago, Lenny Green said:

Hard to watch last night's game and not think that the Yankees might like to see Buxton patroling center for them. One of the few teams that could afford him to play 80 games a year.

Certainly seems possible. They are flush in SS prospects, including one that got to AAA this year. IF they deal Buxton, I'd move Lewis to CF, Martin to LF, and Peraza (from NYY) to SS at AAA to start the year. I'd also want one of their top pitching prospects and 2 fliers. I don't want them to deal Buxton, no, I don't. But if they do, NYY are one of the more likely teams involved.

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10 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

Certainly seems possible. They are flush in SS prospects, including one that got to AAA this year. IF they deal Buxton, I'd move Lewis to CF, Martin to LF, and Peraza (from NYY) to SS at AAA to start the year. I'd also want one of their top pitching prospects and 2 fliers. I don't want them to deal Buxton, no, I don't. But if they do, NYY are one of the more likely teams involved.

Buxton for CJ Abrams, Dinelson Lamet, Trent Grisham, and the Hosmer salary dump.

Who says no?  :) (I seriously don't know)

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1 hour ago, TheLeviathan said:

Buxton for CJ Abrams, Dinelson Lamet, Trent Grisham, and the Hosmer salary dump.

Who says no?  :) (I seriously don't know)

That's about the only other team they match up with, imo. I'd want to deal Abrams for pitching at that point....or Lewis. Certainly Arraez is gone.

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6 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

That's about the only other team they match up with, imo. I'd want to deal Abrams for pitching at that point....or Lewis. Certainly Arraez is gone.

I think I would try to throw in Donaldson and his. salary in the deal somehow. The Twins could use that $25mil per year on better pitching on the market if someone would sign here.

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And what happens if the Twins sign Buxton to big bucks, long term? And then his injury history remains constant? Will he get the same "love" Mauer got from many fans? 
That’s not a reason to trade him, it’s just a curiosity. The only way the Twins would sign him is if they get the home team discount and I don’t see that happening. While Buxton may have the Twins over a small barrel, Mauer, with the new stadium and being a local, had them over a huge barrel. 

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1 hour ago, Platoon said:

And what happens if the Twins sign Buxton to big bucks, long term? And then his injury history remains constant? Will he get the same "love" Mauer got from many fans? 
That’s not a reason to trade him, it’s just a curiosity. The only way the Twins would sign him is if they get the home team discount and I don’t see that happening. While Buxton may have the Twins over a small barrel, Mauer, with the new stadium and being a local, had them over a huge barrel. 

I think it's a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation. But man, I'm on the side of 'Get. Him. Signed!'

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