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  • 3 Questions Byron Buxton Can Answer in September


    Cody Christie

    Byron Buxton is nearing a return to the big-league roster, and there are multiple questions he can answer during the season’s final weeks.

    Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Is Buxton healthy?
    For Byron Buxton, this seems to be the eternal question. Buxton has been out of action since late June with a fractured hand. This injury came on the heels of a trip to the IL for a hip injury. However, his most recent injury may have been a blessing in disguise because it allowed his hip injury to heal fully. He certainly still looked hobbled the last time he was in a big-league lineup, now those worries may be behind him. 

    2. Can Buxton return to an MVP level?
    There’s no question that Buxton has been playing at an elite level this season. Even during his limited action this season (27 games), he ranks second on the team in fWAR. That may be more of an indictment of the team, but in 110 plate appearances, Buxton has hit .369/.409/.767 with ten home runs and 11 doubles. His swing also looked healthy during his rehab stint with the St. Paul Saints.

    Since 2019, Buxton has seen a noticeable increase in his power numbers even as he has missed time due to injury. During his last 153 games, he has hit .282/.322/.581 (.903) with a 139 OPS+ to go along with 21 steals. Add in his Gold Glove caliber defense, and he certainly fills out the five-tool scouting report that started when the Twins drafted him.

    3. Will the Twins still consider trading him this winter?
    Buxton is among a group of veteran players the Twins can consider trading this winter. Minnesota made multiple contract offers to Buxton in the weeks before the trade deadline. When Buxton and his representation declined those offers, Minnesota said they would look to trade Buxton at some point before his team control expires at the end of 2022. Buxton’s trade value will only increase if he is healthy and playing at an MVP level.

    The Twins also have the opportunity to revisit contract discussions with Buxton this winter. From the team’s perspective, Buxton makes the offense better with his powerful swing, and the pitching staff improves with him roaming the outfield. Minnesota is a better team with Buxton on the field, as the team’s record with him in the lineup is significantly better than when he is absent.

    Following a disappointing 2021, the Twins winning window may have shifted a few years into the future. Will Buxton be part of the next winning Twins team? That may be a question for another day…

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    I know it is illogical in this day of outsized contracts, but to me a player like Buxton should look at the fact that the Twins have paid him for full years and he has been a part time employee.  The offers for him have been generous and if he does not sign, trade him.  Time to start moving on.  From the great prospect and hope for the future only Berrios and Polanco have really delivered on the promise.  Buxton has teased, Kepler and Sano have not grown or developed as hoped.  Let's hope this next set of prospects can continue to develop and deliver.  

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    I'd trade Buxton if there's an offer which impresses me and not look back. I'd like an servicable CF or SS with 2+ years of team control and a top 50 prospect. 

    I don't think Buxton is capable of producing more than 6.0 fWAR peak or 5.0 fWAR avg in 150 games which will never happen in his career. Buxton is good for 60-80 games a year which means the Twins have to essentially carry a 27 man roster just to offset Buxton's constant injuries.

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    September will be a big month for Buck. If he comes back and plays the whole month at anything close to how he played his first 27 games this year it makes this offseason real interesting. He's going to stick to his demands of big incentives on that reported 7/80 base deal. But will also raise the type of package the Twins could demand if they refuse to meet his contract demands. I'm of the belief the Twins should sign him to whatever incentives he wants (assuming all incentives are based on that season and there aren't any future season vesting options he's talking about) as his value from his defense alone will be incredibly high into his mid 30s. I'm not a believer that he's going to hit 30 and suddenly go from 30 ft/s sprint speed to 25. Dude is fast enough and gets good enough jumps that even losing a step or 2 in his early 30s means he's the best defensive CFer in baseball. Reference point: Kevin Kiermaier is 31 and has gone from 29.7 ft/s in 2015 to 29.1 ft/s this year and is still in the 95th percentile for sprint speed. Buxton should be an elite glove man for his whole career.

    If he's a .300 hitter with 30+ bombs you're talking MVP and he's worth whatever incentives he's asking for. If the Twins can get him on a 7/80 base it's the absolute right move. With their limited payroll (whether self inflicted or not) this is their best chance to sign a player of this caliber to a long-term deal that doesn't kill their budget. If the Pohlads won't sign off on a deal like this due to the risk of their payroll jumping 15M in a season where they have the MVP then MLB should force them to sell.

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    19 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

    He's not. He's a .250 hitter in decline with 20-25 HR power over a full season.

    In decline? At the age of 27 he's already at the point in his career where he's going to be getting significantly worse? Bold claim there. Not going to argue with you on the batting stats. If you want to believe he hasn't figured his hitting out over the last 2 years and is a different player than he was early on when they were changing his swing every other week I'm fine with you believing that. Agree to disagree. But he's still worth 7/80 plus incentives.

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    1 hour ago, chpettit19 said:

    In decline? At the age of 27 he's already at the point in his career where he's going to be getting significantly worse? Bold claim there. Not going to argue with you on the batting stats. If you want to believe he hasn't figured his hitting out over the last 2 years and is a different player than he was early on when they were changing his swing every other week I'm fine with you believing that. Agree to disagree. But he's still worth 7/80 plus incentives.

    Yes. I believe he's in decline because speed is so integral to his value. 245 plate appearances in 63 games. That's the last two years for Buxton.

    The max I'd go for Buxton is 3 years and $45MM.

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    With the way the Twins aired their dirty laundry to the press over Buxton's contract, it seems very unlikely to me that he remains in a Twins uniform much longer.  The Twins told a reporter what would happen -- if he doesn't sign by the trade deadline, he's gone at the first chance they get -- and I see no reason not to believe them.  Even if that was an idle threat, that's such a low-class move that Buxton is now unlikely to sign any piece of paper the Twins put in front of him.

    Life is short, and he can make millions wherever he goes.  He may as well play for people who respect him.

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    I think the 7 yr/80m deal they negotiated as his base is frankly a great deal for the Twins. Think about it this way, we're committed to pay Kepler 8.5m next year and 10m in 2023, and Sano 9.25m and 14m those same two years. No question Buxton is worth more than they are if he plays 80 games a season, a lot more if he plays 130. We're getting him for 11.57m a season base. Not a huge risk and one easily worth taking. I don't know what the difference is on the incentives but I can't believe that it's such that there's no deal to be had unless the Twins think that by guaranteeing 11.57m a year that they are stretching. IF they think that, we have the wrong guys negotiating the deals. That's a great deal, it's not a stretch.  

    Let's not delude ourselves into thinking he's going to take a 3 or 4 year deal unless we pay handsomely for it - like 20m a year. A 3 year, 45m deal? Not happening. There is zero incentive for him to take that. He will do better after the 2022 season unless he suffers a career ending injury and he can insure for that. He will get a minimum of 17-20 m a year in guarantees if he has a decent or better season next year.

    The only way a mid market team can stay competitive is to take risk - signing players long term before having a complete picture or overpaying older players. We can't and won't pay market for guys in their prime. Sometimes it works - see Polanco, sometimes it's a best a small loss - see Donaldson, sometimes its unclear and we might crash and burn - See Kepler and Sano. We still need to take the risk. It's the only way to truly compete. The deal is there. Make it, sign Buxton, and spend the rest of your money on pitching. 

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    20 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

    Yes. I believe he's in decline because speed is so integral to his value. 245 plate appearances in 63 games. That's the last two years for Buxton.

    The max I'd go for Buxton is 3 years and $45MM.

    And as I pointed out in the original comment you responded to there's no reason to believe he's suddenly going to be super slow. Kevin Kiermaier topped out at 29.7 ft/s sprint speed back in 2015 at the age of 25. He's now at 29.1 ft/s sprint speed at the age of 31. Buxton is at 30.0 ft/s sprint speed at the age of 27. How much slower do you think he'll get in the next 5 years? Even dropping down to 29 ft/s keeps him in the 95th percentile of MLB players.  There are only 40 players in MLB who have sprint speeds of 29 or faster. So there's no real reason to think he's suddenly going to be slow. Trout is 30 and has only dropped to 29.3. Jon Berti for the Marlins is 31 and sprinting at 29.9 ft/s. Billy hamilton is 31 at 29.6. Adam Engel 30 at 29.7. Phil Gosselin is 33 and sprinting 29.2. And none of those guys are coming from Buxton's top speed at 30.9.

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    3 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    September will be a big month for Buck. If he comes back and plays the whole month at anything close to how he played his first 27 games this year it makes this offseason real interesting. He's going to stick to his demands of big incentives on that reported 7/80 base deal. But will also raise the type of package the Twins could demand if they refuse to meet his contract demands. I'm of the belief the Twins should sign him to whatever incentives he wants (assuming all incentives are based on that season and there aren't any future season vesting options he's talking about) as his value from his defense alone will be incredibly high into his mid 30s. I'm not a believer that he's going to hit 30 and suddenly go from 30 ft/s sprint speed to 25. Dude is fast enough and gets good enough jumps that even losing a step or 2 in his early 30s means he's the best defensive CFer in baseball. Reference point: Kevin Kiermaier is 31 and has gone from 29.7 ft/s in 2015 to 29.1 ft/s this year and is still in the 95th percentile for sprint speed. Buxton should be an elite glove man for his whole career.

    If he's a .300 hitter with 30+ bombs you're talking MVP and he's worth whatever incentives he's asking for. If the Twins can get him on a 7/80 base it's the absolute right move. With their limited payroll (whether self inflicted or not) this is their best chance to sign a player of this caliber to a long-term deal that doesn't kill their budget. If the Pohlads won't sign off on a deal like this due to the risk of their payroll jumping 15M in a season where they have the MVP then MLB should force them to sell.

    I am with you.  You just are not going to get many\any incentive deals like this for a potential All Star caliber player.  There is plenty of risk and I get that it would suck if he was out more than healthy during the life of that contract but if he hits those incentives the Twins should be jumping for joy because they would have a legit difference maker for once.  Even if those incentives push them over whatever self imposed budget they might have they owe it to their fans after all the ineptitude of previous seasons.  If they already agree on the bottom number they should just get this thing done.

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    Hard to imagine him being in decline when he's hardly played enough to evaluate! I don't think the Twins will trade him...unless he manages to get  hurt again when he returns. Then I think they will have had enough. He has talent but he also isn't earning his paycheck. For Twins sake and their fans, I hope he comes back strong and they re-sign him.

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    1 hour ago, chpettit19 said:

    And as I pointed out in the original comment you responded to there's no reason to believe he's suddenly going to be super slow. Kevin Kiermaier topped out at 29.7 ft/s sprint speed back in 2015 at the age of 25. He's now at 29.1 ft/s sprint speed at the age of 31. Buxton is at 30.0 ft/s sprint speed at the age of 27. How much slower do you think he'll get in the next 5 years? Even dropping down to 29 ft/s keeps him in the 95th percentile of MLB players.  There are only 40 players in MLB who have sprint speeds of 29 or faster. So there's no real reason to think he's suddenly going to be slow. Trout is 30 and has only dropped to 29.3. Jon Berti for the Marlins is 31 and sprinting at 29.9 ft/s. Billy hamilton is 31 at 29.6. Adam Engel 30 at 29.7. Phil Gosselin is 33 and sprinting 29.2. And none of those guys are coming from Buxton's top speed at 30.9.

    This isn't about his range in CF. I have no questions he'll continue to be a good center fielder. This has to do with his infield hits. Buxton gets so many of his hits by a single step. His home plate to 1B rate is ultra-elite. He's the fastest player to 1B in baseball, period, and that is a huge component to his value at the plate because he does have a large number of weak contact, rollover hits in the infield. It only takes a step and many of those "hits" turn into outs.

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    27 minutes ago, ashbury said:

    You'd pay $15M a year for a guy you see as in decline? Deep pockets there.

    The front office has no proven options at CF for next year and they probably don't have a great option the year after in the works, either and I'd like to see the Twins try and compete.

    I'd say the Pohlads qualify as "deep pockets" and decline doesn't mean Buxton is DFA'd next year.

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    18 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

    This isn't about his range in CF. I have no questions he'll continue to be a good center fielder. This has to do with his infield hits. Buxton gets so many of his hits by a single step. His home plate to 1B rate is ultra-elite. He's the fastest player to 1B in baseball, period, and that is a huge component to his value at the plate because he does have a large number of weak contact, rollover hits in the infield. It only takes a step and many of those "hits" turn into outs.

    THAT'S your reasoning??

     

     

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    19 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

    This isn't about his range in CF. I have no questions he'll continue to be a good center fielder. This has to do with his infield hits. Buxton gets so many of his hits by a single step. His home plate to 1B rate is ultra-elite. He's the fastest player to 1B in baseball, period, and that is a huge component to his value at the plate because he does have a large number of weak contact, rollover hits in the infield. It only takes a step and many of those "hits" turn into outs.

    Since 2015 Buxton has a a 3.6% weak contact rate and 28% topped ball rate. Mike Trout is at 3.6% and 22.4%. League average is 3.7% and 33.3%. He's under league average for both. Since 2019 his weak contact percent's have been 2.4, 2.1, and 2.6. Well below league average. His topped ball %s have been 23.8, 25, and 38.5. 2 years of basically 10 points below average and this year above. Yes, his speed does give him a great advantage over other players in beating out infield hits, but you're making it sound like he's a slap hitter or something.

    I think you just have a very different view of Buxton than I do and what his recent stats have shown him to be. He has 10 homeruns in 27 games this year and you think he's a 20-25 homer guy in a full season. You're suggesting he would have gone from 10 in 27 games to 10-15 in the next 130 games. So from a 60 homer pace (he wasn't going to hit 60 hrs this year) to a 19 homer pace. You think his recent production is more than 3x better than who he really is. That's one heck of a hot streak for any player. Especially bold stance considering this is the type of player everyone thought he would be for years.

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    3 hours ago, chopper0080 said:

    I guess my question is, if you aren't going to sign your own developmental players like Jose Berrios or Byron Buxton long-term, who are you going to sign?

    They sign Donaldson to a 4 year deal, then "the fans" want him traded less than 2 years in because he makes too much? Not sure that was the answer you were looking for.

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    5 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    September will be a big month for Buck. If he comes back and plays the whole month at anything close to how he played his first 27 games this year it makes this offseason real interesting. He's going to stick to his demands of big incentives on that reported 7/80 base deal. But will also raise the type of package the Twins could demand if they refuse to meet his contract demands. I'm of the belief the Twins should sign him to whatever incentives he wants (assuming all incentives are based on that season and there aren't any future season vesting options he's talking about) as his value from his defense alone will be incredibly high into his mid 30s. I'm not a believer that he's going to hit 30 and suddenly go from 30 ft/s sprint speed to 25. Dude is fast enough and gets good enough jumps that even losing a step or 2 in his early 30s means he's the best defensive CFer in baseball. Reference point: Kevin Kiermaier is 31 and has gone from 29.7 ft/s in 2015 to 29.1 ft/s this year and is still in the 95th percentile for sprint speed. Buxton should be an elite glove man for his whole career.

    If he's a .300 hitter with 30+ bombs you're talking MVP and he's worth whatever incentives he's asking for. If the Twins can get him on a 7/80 base it's the absolute right move. With their limited payroll (whether self inflicted or not) this is their best chance to sign a player of this caliber to a long-term deal that doesn't kill their budget. If the Pohlads won't sign off on a deal like this due to the risk of their payroll jumping 15M in a season where they have the MVP then MLB should force them to sell.

    He doesn't want incentives...it's guarantees he will be looking for

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    1 minute ago, se7799 said:

    He doesn't want incentives...it's guarantees he will be looking for

    Well both him and his agent have publicly stated that they agreed to a base of 7 years and $80M, but they couldn't come together with the team on the incentives so I think I'll stick with him being good with the 7/80 and wanting more incentives.

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    6 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

    Well both him and his agent have publicly stated that they agreed to a base of 7 years and $80M, but they couldn't come together with the team on the incentives so I think I'll stick with him being good with the 7/80 and wanting more incentives.

    We will agree to disagree.  That offer has no, absolutely 0 percent chance.  He can get guaranteed money as a FA.  I guess we shall see.

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    4 minutes ago, se7799 said:

    We will agree to disagree.  That offer has no, absolutely 0 percent chance.  He can get guaranteed money as a FA.  I guess we shall see.

    Agree to disagree on what? Literally everyone actually involved and with direct knowledge of the situation says 7/80 is/was agreed upon. Your argument is that they're all wrong (or lying) and you know better. So, sure, agree to disagree.

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    2 hours ago, USAFChief said:

    THAT'S your reasoning??

     

     

    Yes. That's my reasoning.

    25% of Buxton's hits in 2020 came from infield grounders. Make that 15% to be close to his average year. In 2019, his infield hit rate was 18%. Drop that to 12% (still good but simulating a lost step).

    Results:

    • 2020 From .254/.267/.577 OPS .844 to .231/.244/.544 OPS .788. He literally drops over 50 points of OPS.
    • 2019 From .262/.314/.513 OPS .827 to .247/.298/.498 OPS .776. Again, a 50 point OPS drop.

    I don't believe people realize just how unbelievably important Buxton's ability to beat that ground ball out by a step is to his game at the plate. He gets a lot of his OPS from those hits.

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    2 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    ...I think you just have a very different view of Buxton than I do...

    I agee. I don't believe in his recent stats and I think it's too late to view Buxton as a prospect who took it to the next level.

    You're putting faith in the recent excellent performance at the plate as proof Buxton was still growing and did take it to the next level.

    It results in us having polar opposite opinions on him. September probably wouldn't change either of our opinions on the subject. Luckily, neither one of us have jobs depending on how Buxton performs or what contract he might sign.

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    2 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    They sign Donaldson to a 4 year deal, then "the fans" want him traded less than 2 years in because he makes too much? Not sure that was the answer you were looking for.

    I guess it is not shocking to me that fans would be less patient with a declining vet FA who they have no investment in vs signing a young, home grown player they have watched develop for 3 to 4 years.

     

    I feel like that is why we have posts on here apologizing to Polanco and not discussing how Donaldson has been an ok investment so far. Fans are invested in Polanco.

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