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What the Hell Are the Twins Doing with Byron Buxton?


In many cases, getting more information about a situation brings clarity. But in the case of the Minnesota Twins and their negotiations with star center fielder Byron Buxton, emerging details only generate further confusion.

Based on what's been reported, it's really hard to make sense of what the team is doing here.

On Tuesday, Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal bylined a report in The Athletic with the headline: Byron Buxton’s future with the Twins remains in limbo as team gauges trade interest, potential extension offers. The article depicts a team struggling to decide whether it should trade its best player with one year remaining under contract, or hold him for the 2022 season.

The option that seems most obvious and desirable — striking a long-term extension with this generational talent in his prime — doesn't really seem to be on the table, even if it hasn't been ruled out.

"Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars," per The Athletic. 

Pohlad's absolutely right in his assessment of how trading Buxton will be perceived by Twins fans, who just watched Jose Berrios sign an extension with Toronto. Fortunately, it would seem nobody is in better position than he to ensure Buxton sticks around. Pohlad and his ownership group have the power to greenlight an offer that keeps Buxton in Minnesota long-term, and such a framework — from all indications — is extremely achievable under team-friendly terms.

The article from Hayes and Rosenthal reiterates that a 7-year, $80 million offer was extended in July, which we've heard before, but later offers up this detail: "Sources said talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million."

Back in July, reports indicated Buxton's side was amenable to that guaranteed amount of $80 million (which surprised me), but that an agreement couldn't be reached over the incentive structure. In my mind, I figured Buxton's camp must have been demanding some extravagant bonuses that could've done something like double the base amount.

Yet, the wording of this new report — talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million — well, that sure sounds like the team was not open to a contract that would maximize at $100 million.

And if true, that's nothing short of embarrassing. Shameful. And egregiously foolish.

I mean, come on, that would average out to about $14 million per year. That's Ricky Nolasco money, for a homegrown MVP-caliber player in his prime years. 

I'm having a really hard time connecting the dots here. If Twins ownership is adamant about keeping Buxton, and the center fielder's side is open to a reasonable deal, then what is the hold-up? 

Why are the Twins mired in internal debate over whether to trade Buxton or let him leave as a free agent, rather than opting for the best choice, which is neither of those?

Here are a few possibilities I can conjure. If you have others, I'd love to hear them in the comments.

The reported numbers are inaccurate. Hayes and Rosenthal are two of the more respected writers in the biz, and I trust they're providing a realistic view of the overall dynamic, but that doesn't mean every single detail is spot-on. Perhaps there are some specifics getting obscured in the communication loop. Or maybe they're receiving false info from a biased source with an agenda. (Ostensibly, this would be Buxton's agent, but I'm not sure what their end-game would be in leaking a low-ball offer?) Also: the numbers that've been reported would have be a loooong ways off to not make sense for the Twins.

The Twins front office doesn't believe in Buxton. Or at least doesn't have enough confidence in his durability and aging regression to feel that a long-term extension is in their interest. I find this kind of hard to believe, but when you look at the evidence available to us — an owner expressing his desire to retain a player who is seemingly open to reasonable terms, and a front office that isn't making it happen — it's a plausible explanation. 

Buxton has no interest in signing an extension in Minnesota. This would run contrary to what he's said publicly, but it'd hardly be the first time a pro athlete gave lip service to appease fans. Maybe the bridge truly was burned when the Twins held Buxton in the minors in September of 2018. Or maybe Buck has a yearning to return to the South where he was raised. Or maybe he simply recognizes an opportunity to earn a much bigger payday one year from now if he can deliver in 2022. Sadly, I think this is probably the most likely answer behind everything, and also the only one that completely ties the Twins' hands.

Pohlad is bluffing, and doesn't really want to pay up. It's the favored explanation for many, I'm sure. Maybe it's true, and Pohlad is portraying himself to media as the good guy who fought for Buxton before an inevitable trade. But if the reported number he's targeting is anywhere close to correct, there's no reason that Twins shouldn't be able to keep Buxton while building a quality team around him under the payroll parameters that have become standard under this ownership. 

One thing I will say: if Pohlad is pushing to prevent a Buxton trade solely to mitigate fan blowback, knowing the team won't be able to re-sign him (which is one way to read the opening in the Athletic article), the front office needs to shut him out and not listen. Team strategy cannot be dictated by such factors. 

Trading Buxton will be a bitter pill to swallow, but it may result in making the best of a bad situation. A totally self-inflicted bad situation, if reports around these negotiations are to be believed.

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This Buxton situation has completely stymied the Twins front office apparently. 

"I'm having a really hard time connecting the dots here." - This is almost everyone, both Twins fans and those who follow baseball around the country. Something is amiss and it is frustrating to wait for the other shoe to fall.

As to the possibilities .... it seems what numbers were shared/published are likely real or quite close. The other three possibilities seem much more to the heart of the problem in signing Buxton: the Twins don't believe in Byron, he is ready to move, and the Twins do not intend to pay for a Buxton contract. 

Whew, this is too much to get our head around. I mean the Twins could put a team on the field that does better than last year's record for $100 million. That team would need to include Buxton, even if the bill for BB was $25 million (a quarter of the payroll). Without Buxton, the Twins need to go into a full rebuild like Baltimore or boost the payroll to $150 million. So many posts and  the article in The Athletic puts a new twist in our expectations/hopes for Twins baseball. 

How is it possible that Falvey is still analyzing their own roster and wondering what to do? The quote from The Athletic was somewhat disturbing. “Now, we’re working through understanding all sides of this ultimately. We’ll proceed accordingly. At this stage of the offseason, we’re still just navigating our strategy and planning and trying to understand what’s available to us and what the market looks like on all periods. As is always the case, this isn’t unique to Byron or otherwise, there are people on our team that are interesting to other clubs and we just always need to work through what does that look like, what does our team look like as we navigate it.” 

This entire past year has been confusing. My default is to accept what Falvey sees as best for making the Twins competitive, even when I disagree. The unfolding of this drama with Buxton causes me to question. Yah, what the hell is going on?

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Nick, I agree 100 % with your article.  Thanks for writing it and for expressing what a lot of us Twins fans are thinking: "What the Hell?" Maybe the FO and/or owners don't care what we rabid Twins fans are saying here, but they should pay attention.  I contend this website is frequented  by incredibly bright, thoughtful, loyal Twins fans. I really do not remember a subject matter that has been as strongly  agreed upon on this site as the absolute necessity to sign Buck to a long term deal. Ans so I say in no damn uncertain terms: FO, do not mess this up by negotiating too much. I have seen this happen in negotiations involving my law practice many times. Feelings get hurt and lines get drawn in the sand and next thing you know, the whole thing unravels. This impasse is not just about money. Find a way to address the pride puffing up on both sides. Think outside the box and see what Buck really wants, and find a way to give it to him. 

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Fantastic read even though it was a sad  one. With just so much regression this past year, maybe the FO just don’t have much confidence in competing in the next or so and they’re just looking to acquire as much future assets as they can instead of taking a risky big contract on Buxton. Still very early in the off-season though but it’s gonna be a telling one 

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Thoughtful analysis ... of a tragedy in the making.

Man, this has been an ugly day in Twins Territory. Wasn't this offseason supposed to help us forget the agony of 2021?

Look, I don't like this FO, and I don't trust this FO. But this explanation is plausible: "Buxton has no interest in signing an extension in Minnesota." If it is, then the least this FO can do is really dig in about why. Is it personal preference, or is it that Buxton felt disrespected or slighted here? If so, the organizational norms or practices that led to his discontent have to change. Immediately. Period.

And if he is traded, then they have to drop the ridiculous notion that they're "retooling." Admit the folly, ask the fans' forgiveness for a lost window of opportunity, lay out an organizational plan and a timeline and ask the fans to join in on a rebuilding journey. They can even talk big and claim that, with a retooled development staff, it'll be the shortest rebuild in team history. 

But come clean. Be honest. Treat fans like intelligent adults. Most of us are ... myself excluded.

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I think its fairly evident that this comes down to the front office based on the comments made today. 

With that said, you've traded away one young piece in Berrios and now are likely to trade the other in Buxton. 

You better be damn sure that you can identify the right talent in these trades to build a contender while also signing the right pieces in the meantime to entice fans to buy tickets or else your in some serious trouble.

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I guess I am in the minority here. I don't see a trade of Buck as all that bad. He should bring one helluva return and when you consider the guy will be 28 years old, has played in the majors 7 years and has never played a full season once, why would you break the bank to keep someone like that? I realize looking back isn't the best way to evalaute a player but in Bucks case you can't ignore it either. Maybe the best way to spend that money is to give it to someone who can play 150+ games a year, year after year, even if he is slightly less spectacular defensively and almost as good offensively. With some really good shortstops available this year maybe the money would be better spent there. Give CF to a 1 or 2 year guy and if you've got SS covered for 4, 5 or 6 years let Royce Lewis or Austin Martin go to CF since they are questionable at SS anyway. 

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Thank you Nick, I'm very confused also especially now with the Berrios extension.  It was presented that Berrios was unreasonable and that he wanted to become a free agent and get the big bucks, so I wasn't surprised when he got traded. But when the Twins played Toronto, I had the impression that Berrios wanted to be back together with his old team mates and that he really didn't want to leave MN.

What surprised me was that Berrios took Toronto's 1st offer and didn't really want to hold out for FA. My take on this is that this FO is low balling in their negotiating player's extensions. When Berrios finally got a reasonable offer he took it. I feel that they're doing the same thing with Buxton. The fans want Buxton and I believe, like Berrios, Buxton and even more so wants to stay with his teammates. I feel (and I hope I'm wrong) that this FO is lying to us and have been jerking around and low balling their players. This is degrading and makes me angry. Suggestions of base salary with incentives has been around for awhile why haven't they come up with a reasonable offer? They seem like intelligent people. What is the alternative to signing him, we won't get anything in trade, other teams will out low ball them. FO quit playing around before it's too late, finally show confidence in Buxton and finally give him a reasonable offer. Forgive me that I'm coming across harsh but I'm very frustrated right now.

I have seen many things that this FO have done wrong and spoken about it this last year and many fans have countered me. I believe that many will finally wake up and there'll be a revolt but it could be too late.

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58 minutes ago, rv78 said:

I guess I am in the minority here. I don't see a trade of Buck as all that bad. He should bring one helluva return and when you consider the guy will be 28 years old, has played in the majors 7 years and has never played a full season once, why would you break the bank to keep someone like that? I realize looking back isn't the best way to evalaute a player but in Bucks case you can't ignore it either. Maybe the best way to spend that money is to give it to someone who can play 150+ games a year, year after year, even if he is slightly less spectacular defensively and almost as good offensively. With some really good shortstops available this year maybe the money would be better spent there. Give CF to a 1 or 2 year guy and if you've got SS covered for 4, 5 or 6 years let Royce Lewis or Austin Martin go to CF since they are questionable at SS anyway. 

Depends on what they get, and what they do with it.

if it’s a crap-load of lotto tickets and we just wait 5 years for them all to wash out… yuck, no thanks!

if some of that crap-load of lotto tickets gets flipped for Chris Bassit and Sean Manaea, I’m ok with it.

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This really just seems like posturing to me.  The team is leveraging other teams should they in fact determine that they need to trade him.  And at the same time, likely finding what his true value is in the process, which they can use to leverage Buxton who is likely doing the same thing behind the scenes.  That's actually pretty shrewd in my mind.  

I'm not overly concerned about it at this point.  It's November and the CBA expires in a couple of weeks.  I pretty much expect this to take right up to when players start reporting to camp, whenever that may be.

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26 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

This really just seems like posturing to me. 

Buxton - no way. Falvey - why? Buxton could retire today and never look back. The Twins absolutely need Buxton. You only need to look at the W-L records of the Twins with and without Buxton. Tickets, ad sales, viewership - there is a ton on the line here. The Twins did not average as many fans last season as the Timberwolves drew to last night's game. The T-Wolves are terrible. Is that acceptable? We are all human and Falvey has misspoken. I will hope that things will take a turn for the positive. 

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Posturing...if that's what our illustrious FO is doing then damn them to hell.  This is a FO that has COMPLETLY messed up an off-season 50% of the time. (2018 & 2021).   My patience with them is running out.  Honestly, I don't think an AVERAGE FO could mess up a season as frequently as these guys have.  They got us Cruz and Maeda, and epically failed in 2021 and again in 2018.  So now we have a couple scenarios, nicely laid out by Nick, and NONE of them are something a Twins fan would be happy with.  The sad truth is, if the Twins end up trading Buxton they will get nothing close to what his value could/should be.  I'm losing any confidence that Falvey/Levine actually have a plan and are working their plan.  At this point, they should be beyond "navigating" their strategy" and actually EXECUTING their strategy.  Honestly,  Jim Pohlad  should be shocked and dismayed they aren't EXECUTING their strategy.  How is it, that the Tigers FO identified a Gold Glove catcher and young LH starting pitcher (Barnhardt & Rodriguez) and have already "executed" signing them.  How is it the Dodgers already identified a LH pitcher with great stuff (Heaney) and signed him to a bargain $8.5 million dollar contract. 

Front offices are presently EXECUTING their strategies.  Ours, they're  still "navigating"  theirs.  Signing Buxton SHOULD be this FO's #1 priority this off season, followed closely by signing/trading for FOUR SP's to fill out the starting rotation (because that's where our tremendous FO has left us at this point).   Prom is coming up, and at this rate they will be without a date and sitting home lonely.

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I really good article to stir us all up on a gray November day. I don't understand this front office. Nor do I understand how they responded to Berrios and I can't comprehend how they're handling Buxton. 

I'm reading baseball news and I'm surprised at the speed by which teams are taking action despite the lack of CBA. But then I contrast the twins and the lack of action. I don't understand it. 

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As if winter wasn’t depressing enough in the frozen tundra….I saw somewhere the Twins are a 100 win team with Buxton and an 81 win team without him over the past 3 or 4 years. I also saw that he’s got one of the top 10 or so best WAR per 162 game season in the entire MLB - right there with the top names in the game.  So many great recommendations on TD about a fair base salary and massive incentives for games played.  If Byron plays 140 games a year he’s worth $25M for the next 6-7 years.  Pay the man!  Can we sell Fake Twins stock like the Packers did or start a GoFundMe??

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The mantra remains until it isn't true, and not by what they say, but what they do. The Twins are just cheap. That contract should be able to go over 200 million with incentives!

“Now, we’re working through understanding all sides of this ultimately. We’ll proceed accordingly. At this stage of the offseason, we’re still just navigating our strategy and planning and trying to understand what’s available to us and what the market looks like on all periods. As is always the case, this isn’t unique to Byron or otherwise, there are people on our team that are interesting to other clubs and we just always need to work through what does that look like, what does our team look like as we navigate it.” 

That is one souless and lost comment by Falvey. Still trying to understand? Seriously? Looks like the same old plan.... wait and see what is left, underpay them and make them happy like Lynn, and hope for the best. 

It sure was fun watching the Braves this year. They had some soul.

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A team should always look at having at least one player who is outside your entire team's financial structure....The Franchose Guy! The fellow you pay above and beyond because he is the current name of the Franchise. 

 

And then don't complain when they age or whatever and don't live up to the expectations. Think of it as paying for services past rendered, too.

 

Keep your own players if throwing away money. Would you rather have 7 years of Jose Berrios for $131 or a $100-108 million five year contract with, say, Josh Donaldson. The Twins can gamble, but they jsut keep looking for the hometown discount, it seems (or any discount). Hometown Players CAN get rewarded for their underpaid years, especially by the team that ahs already exploited them!

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This was an excellent read Nick, thank you for this.

That being said, this whole Buxton situation is the epitome of being a Minnesota sports fan. A player I have fallen in love with watching over the year finally seems to be putting his whole game together and looks like he has the potential to be the greatest player in Twins history if he could get some injury luck and become a Minnesota legend.

Just sad that the only thing holding that back from happening is the unwillingness to pay him what he deserves.

And you just know he will go elsewhere and absolutely thrive, and it will be awesome to watch a class-act play to his MVP-level potential yet extremely sad because we know it could be for us.

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I will say if the Twins trade Buxton and he signs an 8 year 120 million contract with 30 million in incentives, There will be very few people bothering to go to Twins games until we have a trustworthy new front office. and the fact that the current offer is 1 year and 50 million less than that even.......Lets wait and see but wow this is bad from where we sit.

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8 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

Buxton - no way. Falvey - why? Buxton could retire today and never look back. The Twins absolutely need Buxton. You only need to look at the W-L records of the Twins with and without Buxton. Tickets, ad sales, viewership - there is a ton on the line here. The Twins did not average as many fans last season as the Timberwolves drew to last night's game. The T-Wolves are terrible. Is that acceptable? We are all human and Falvey has misspoken. I will hope that things will take a turn for the positive. 

You don't think Buxton is trying to maximize his value?  These negotiations are all about leverage, and both sides are angling to try to maximize that.  The team is trying to downplay Buxton's value and get the best terms they can.  That's how negotiations work.  

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My guess is that Falvey has a number in mind that he isn’t willing to cross, even by a little. Doogie tweeted that they came nowhere close to what Toronto offered for Berrios, so the same thing could be playing out here. Perhaps this is why his name keeps popping up in the rumor mill whenever a team has a front office vacancy…I’ve been a supporter of this front office, but the Buxton situation is very quickly unraveling my trust. It’s just such a no brainer. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If the numbers we’ve seen are at all accurate, then clearly there’s a way. There just seems to be no will. 

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12 hours ago, Sirhamless said:

Fantastic read even though it was a sad  one. With just so much regression this past year, maybe the FO just don’t have much confidence in competing in the next or so and they’re just looking to acquire as much future assets as they can instead of taking a risky big contract on Buxton. Still very early in the off-season though but it’s gonna be a telling one 

I understand your point, but the problem is that the numbers we’ve seen don’t at all constitute a big contract. Jon Gray will sign a higher AAV deal this winter. 

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15 minutes ago, prouster said:

My guess is that Falvey has a number in mind that he isn’t willing to cross, even by a little. Doogie tweeted that they came nowhere close to what Toronto offered for Berrios, so the same thing could be playing out here. Perhaps this is why his name keeps popping up in the rumor mill whenever a team has a front office vacancy…I’ve been a supporter of this front office, but the Buxton situation is very quickly unraveling my trust. It’s just such a no brainer. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If the numbers we’ve seen are at all accurate, then clearly there’s a way. There just seems to be no will. 

Doggie isn't as connected as he wants people to believe. The FO might not have went 7 years, but I have a hard time believing they wouldn't go $18m for a solid #2 on a back loaded contract. 

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