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  • Get Ready for the Opposite of Joe Mauer


    Ted Schwerzler

    As Derek Falvey and Thad Levine continue to drag their feet when it comes to a potential contract extension for Byron Buxton, we are becoming increasingly more likely to see the alternative to what happened with Joe Mauer.

    Image courtesy of David Berding, USA TODAY Sports

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    In March of 2010, Minnesota inked hometown hero Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension. He’d played in 699 games to that point and tallied three batting titles along with an MVP. With free agency looming, the Twins did the right thing and signed him to a deal that kept him from being paid by the Boston’s or New York’s of the baseball world.

    Because we know that we can’t have nice things as Twins fans, Mauer’s career would be forever changed due to injuries. He’s still a Hall of Famer, and he was still underpaid, but what could’ve been is something we can always wonder about. Due to those injuries changing production Mauer’s contract was long a point of consternation for fans. Working through revisionist history, detractors will often suggest a desire to have let Mauer walk and watch larger markets pay him more. As luck would have it, those same people may now have their day.

    Coming into 2022, Byron Buxton will have played 493 games for the Minnesota Twins. He’s owned an .897 OPS over the past three seasons and has a Platinum Glove to his credit before turning 28-years-old. An expected prime still ahead of him, this is a player that’s one of the ten best in the sport when he’s healthy. That’s where we pick up this story. Unlike Mauer, Buxton has experienced injury issues early on in his career. Also, unlike Joe, those injuries are the only reason Minnesota has a chance to sign the superstar in the first place.

    Reportedly offering an $80 million deal, Minnesota has not yet pushed to the $100 million asking price even with a valuation that would far exceed that number with an average bill of health. Instead of being asked to pay $250 million or more to keep their home-grown talent, the Twins are being asked to pay pennies on the dollar to factor in the availability, or lack thereof, that comes with Buxton. Instead of jumping at that chance, they are said to be leaning in the opposite direction.

    This isn’t a scenario in which history can be aligned to Terry Ryan’s ultimate gaffe regarding David Ortiz. No one is getting released, and the Twins will undoubtedly get something in exchange for Byron. The problem is that no player as valuable can be had for the same dollar amount, and a move regarding someone so intertwined with the fan base will forever cause ripple effects that only Mauer could’ve mirrored.

    We should know soon how the front office is going to play this situation. Maybe they’ve purposely been leaking misinformation to increase their negotiating stance. However, time is running out on wondering what may happen as we are less than a year from knowing what will.

    Byron Buxton might not be from St. Paul, Minnesota. Still, the Baxley, Georgia, native is every bit as Twins Territory as it gets and there isn’t an opportunity to put the band-aid back on this bullet wound once the trigger is pulled. Target Field was sold as an opportunity to keep the internal stars. That rung hollow when flipping Jose Berrios, and it hits rock bottom in moving on from Buxton. Whether he stays healthy or not isn’t the question for now. It’s whether or not you are willing to keep your best talent or continually recycle it.

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    Well-played. My position is that it's Buxton or bust. If they let him go, my loyalty to the team suffers irrevocably. I like watching Twins games in the summer; it's a comfort food. I'll find some other way to spend that time unless the Twins make a realistic offer to Buxton. These days, there's plenty of entertainment on offer apart from the Twinkies. Lots of good books to read. Movies to watch. Podcasts to listen to. And that's not even taking into account quality time with family and friends. A day at the ballpark is great fun if the team is competitive, which means signing Buxton. Otherwise, adios.

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    I don't think it necessarily applies to people who are fan enough to subscribe and post on sites like this - but really, this is what a percentage of Twins fans really deserve.  They complained about Mauer, well like the article said - here's a possible opportunity to experience the opposite.  Have fun with that - I think we'll wish they signed him if he walks.

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    56 minutes ago, farmerguychris said:

    I don't think it necessarily applies to people who are fan enough to subscribe and post on sites like this - but really, this is what a percentage of Twins fans really deserve.  They complained about Mauer, well like the article said - here's a possible opportunity to experience the opposite.  Have fun with that - I think we'll wish they signed him if he walks.

    Sports fans in particular and people in general are notoriously short-sighted. This long-term blindness allows them to complain no matter what happens with Buxton so we shouldn't be surprised when the second-guessing starts.

    Players get millions, Fans get something to complain about and Front Office types get ulcers. American baseball; something for everybody.

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    "Working through revisionist history, detractors will often suggest a desire to have let Mauer walk and watch larger markets pay him more."   

    That is a great line.    I think I followed the Strib reporting more back in the day but am guessing much of what I saw there played out on the TD pages as well.   If you go back in the archive I am guessing at least 95% of posters demanded the Twins sign Mauer to the big deal and I would bet I am low with that 95%.    Of course, in the years after, the percentages of those saying they had been against the signing in the first place came in around 95% also..   Of course for that to be accurate, those posting in favor of extending Mauer never posted again after the contract was signed and those posting afterwards claiming they were against the deal never posted their views before the signing.   At the time, I and one or maybe two others were dissenters and were really only mildly doing so.    I just pointed out that extending after his MVP year was the definition of buying high since he probably wasn't going to win the MVP and batting title each of the next 8 years.   I thought it was a bad baseball decision (they could have just paid market the following year for likely the same amount or less if he had an off year)   but a good marketing decision so maybe part of his contract should have come out of the advertising budget.   I can also say I never criticized the signing in the 8 years after, mainly because as Ted points out, the Twins had already got a huge amount of value out of him before the extension.     

    With Buxton its less logical but more simple.   He's by far my favorite player on the team.    When the team was down I still watched because of him.   With the team down and Buxton out I lost a lot of interest in the current year.   He just brings so much excitement to the team, I would hate to see him go.   I was more on the fence with Tori Hunter.   I liked him, he was good and more reliable but didn't have nearly the wow factor that Buxton has.

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    Buxton Will Be Traded.  Just a question of who is received in return and the trading partner.  Should he still be with the team on opening day, don't expect that he will play with the same reckless abandon as has been the case.  He will be protecting himself from injury so that he can get a big free agent contract.  In addition, why kill yourself for a team that is going nowhere in 2022 ??

     

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    26 minutes ago, Jacksson said:

    Buxton Will Be Traded.  Just a question of who is received in return and the trading partner.  Should he still be with the team on opening day, don't expect that he will play with the same reckless abandon as has been the case.  He will be protecting himself from injury so that he can get a big free agent contract.  In addition, why kill yourself for a team that is going nowhere in 2022 ??

     

    Buxton has known for years reckless play caused him to miss hundreds of games, but he continued the trend. He may back off as he's maturing and can probably see the big picture a little clearer, but he's beaten himself up quite a bit now. Will the surgically repaired shoulder, surgically repaired finger, a history of back spams, concussions, migraines, various strains of legs, hips, wrists and hands along with multiple broken bones allow him to ever be healthy? I'm serious. That's his injury history, paraphrased. Injuries add up. They become chronic as scar tissue builds up, bones calcify, ligaments and tendons stretch, etc.

    Buxton would be in the position to decide... make the spectacular catch like he wants to which he also knows will increase his value if he's successful vs. risking that catch injures him and that injury will decrease his value. Is that a decision he can make in a split-second, conscious decision?

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    Sorry for the side-bar, but I'm stuck on "Mauer is still a Hall of Famer"...

    Has that been officially announced yet?

    While I strongly believe he would have made it had he not been injured and needed to move to first base, that did happen and thus possibly spoiling his chances to get into the Hall of Fame.

     

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    Back on topic - there has been an enormous amount of discussion about Buxton and his future.

    Do I hope he 1) signs with the Twins and 2) stays healthy and 3) produces up to his potential?  Of course.

    The odds that all three are going to happen?  Unfortunately, not likely, and Twins fans will be disappointed if all 3 do not happen.

    Edited by puckstopper1
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    I know many bemoaned the Mauer contract. I never did. They had to sign him. They had no choice. They could not let him walk one year after Target Field opened.

     

    But they are closer to the same reality now with Buxton then they realize. Let him walk and you alienate a lot of your hard core fans. You already have terrible attendance last year and terrible TV ratings. The lockout will alienate them further unless it's resolved quickly.

    If you're trading Buxton and going back to a cheap rebuild, I'm out. I don't think I'm alone. The Twins will be relegated to Wolves territory for me. I will spend $0 on you and wake me when you make the play-offs. Until then., I don't care.

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    How painful.  We watch the machinations and have no say, no control, just hope, wish, and wait.  This is Twins territory.  The prospects come up, the prospects leave.  I know the A's do it every year, but I could not be an Oakland fan.  The Rays do it and I am not a fan of theirs.  I want to see teams and players develop relationships, have long term Hank Aaron connections - see teams and players forever linked.  I know I am old school, but no one will change me. 

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    Why are we surprised Falvey doesn't see signing Buxton as priority #1 like the fan base seems to.  We simply cannot look at back at anything that happened with the Twins in the past to try and predict what might happen with Buxton.  A better indicator may be to look at what Cleveland has done.  If Falvey is trying to re-create what he saw in Cleveland, Buxton is as good as gone....see Lindor, Francisco.  Kluber, Corey.  Clevinger, Mike.  Santana, Carlose.  The Indians/Guardians have show a trend of trading away top players before they have to pay top dollar.  Brace yourselves, Twins fans....

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    40 minutes ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet Moe Jauer!

    Bats right, throws left.

    5 feet, 6 inches tall.

    Plays every position except catcher and first base.

    Signed a contract for eight dollars, paid over 184 million years.

    LACTOSE INTOLERANT.

    Best comment of the day/week/month/year. Brilliant.

     

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    1 hour ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet Moe Jauer!

    Bats right, throws left.

    5 feet, 6 inches tall.

    Plays every position except catcher and first base.

    Signed a contract for eight dollars, paid over 184 million years.

    LACTOSE INTOLERANT.

    Well played, Jauer.

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    Newbie here;

    I googled the Twins record with/without Buxton in lineup.  From Gleeman:

    "Since the beginning of 2019, the #MNTwins have played at a 99-win pace when Byron Buxton is in their starting lineup and an 81-win pace when he isn't. 100-64 record with Buxton. 106-106 record without Buxton. During that time, he's slugged .557 and rated +27 runs defensively.
     
     
    I'm not a WAR/analytics person, but this is entirely extraordinary. Twins are +36 wins when he plays and 0 wins when he doesn't. 
     
    When he first came up, he couldn't put the bat on the ball, now, Crush-er-oma!  If he isn't worth the money that they are talking about, then just field the AAA team in Minneapolis (like they used to do).
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    How can you say it isn't whether Buxton is healthy or not?  That IS the question.  How do you justify paying him a superstar salary when he hasn't played enough to show us he could be a superstar?  Superstars play regularly and produce regularly not very sporadically like Buxton.  He's a career .248 hitter over 7 years and needs to step up.  I think it's sad he's been hurt so much as we will never know what could have been.

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    I think Buxton will tough out the year with the Twins unless they trade him and then walk away at the end of the 2022 season.  It would be a perfect way for him to say thanks for messing with my service time!  Either way the Twins FO is going to come out bad. 

    We do not get nice things, the FO/organization always figures out a way to avoid paying a superstar and then that bites them more when good to great players DO NOT want to come to this organization.  I bet you could count on one hand the great players we have had since Target field opened.  Many of the players the Twins let walk have had success with their new teams.  Maybe not super star success but way more success than any player we have seen.  Polanco and Sano our best players.  Sano may be a known player because fans love the HR hitters.  Polanco probably not as much.  He went to an AS game but not sure he played. 

    How many Twins or who was the last Twin with enough name recognition to be elected?  Maybe Mauer?  I guess my main point is if seem less and less likely every year that we will ever have a well put together team and will always be watching for patch together dumpster diving teams.

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