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  • Is the Time Right to Trade Byron Buxton?


    Cody Christie

    Last winter the Twins made a franchise altering trade by acquiring Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. Maeda finished runner up in the AL Cy Young race after a dominating first season in a Twins uniform. On the heels of a season with less revenue, teams might have to get creative this winter to add impact players to the 2021 roster. So, does that mean the time is right to trade Byron Buxton?

    Image courtesy of © Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

    Byron Buxton is coming off a strong season where he led the Twins in WAR even though he only appeared in 39 of the team’s 60 games. He combined to hit .254/.267/.577 (.844) with 13 home runs and three doubles. Granted it was a small sample size, but his OPS and his slugging percentage were both career highs. It might seem silly to trade away a player of his caliber, but this is going to be an offseason unlike any other.

     

    Buxton’s name has come up in trade talks before. At the 2019 trade deadline, the Twins were looking to upgrade their rotation for a potential playoff run. One of the teams Minnesota had discussions with was the New York Mets. The Twins were interested in acquiring starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, but talks stalled when the Mets insisted that Buxton be included in any trade. Minnesota wasn’t willing to deal Buxton then, so what might have changed?

     

    One of the reasons the Twins might be more willing to deal Buxton is his current contract situation. Minnesota only has team control of Buxton for two more seasons as he enters his second year as an arbitration eligible player. He will likely be making somewhere between $4-6 million this season and next year would be a higher in his final arbitration year. Two years of team control might be the sweet spot for trading away a player, because the team acquiring him isn’t getting an expiring contract.

     

    The Twins can also go in a different direction with Buxton if they wanted to try and sign him to an extension. Minnesota was able to work out extensions with some of the other young core players like Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano. Would Buxton be willing to sign a deal that bought out his remaining arbitration years while also giving the Twins more team control?

     

    Approaching a Buxton extension is a little trickier than the names mentioned above, because of the way his career has transpired. There’s no question that he is a dynamic player, but injuries are part of his career that can’t be ignored. He’s only played more than 92 games in one big league season. The Twins have tried some creative approaches to keeping him on the field including having him start further back defensively and trying to jump off of two feet instead of one foot when attempting catches at the wall. Other teams know his injury history too and that might make a deal tougher to find.

     

    Minnesota would have a big hole to fill in center field if Buxton were traded. Max Kepler can take over in center, but he has expressed concerns in the past about the wear his body goes through when playing at a more demanding defensive position. Other options on the 40-man roster include Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino and LaMonte Wade Jr. A more intriguing choice would be promoting Royce Lewis, but he has only played a handful of games above the High-A level and he’s played limited defensive innings in center.

     

    Buxton’s trade value may never be higher as he enters the prime of his career and he has two years of team control. Minnesota is a better team when he is on the field, but this off-season is going to force teams to make some tough choices. Trading Buxton would be a difficult decision, but if the deal was right, it might be the time to move in a new direction.

     

    Do you think the time is right to trade Byron Buxton? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

     

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    I guess what doesn't make sense to me is this - how can you talk about trading Buxton without even mentioning what the Twins would be looking for in return?

     

    I assume you don't mean prospects, this would be the most unimaginably stupid time to go into rebuilding mode . . . zero percent chance that happens.

     

    So now we're down to trading Buxton for some other MLB position. And what exactly would that be? Utility player? DH? It would be nonsensical to trade Buxton for another position player. So that leaves pitchers.

     

    So what are we expecting for 2 years of an inconsistent player who can't stay healthy? A #3 starter? After the Twins weakness all season was their offense? That makes no sense either.

     

    I just can't picture the realistic return that would justify trading Buxton.

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    I would try and extend Buxton as the first option.  If that is not possible, then you have to look at trading him, and not seeing him go to a big city in two years for maybe a comp pick.  What I would want is a front line starting pitcher and then tweeking the deal to make it work.  One that is young with upside.  Clubs might be Miami, cleveland, and others that might have a surplus of young pitching with two or three with larger upsides.  Anything you might do is dangerous, but if Buxton will not sign here, you have to be open about getting a good return for him.

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    If Buxton leaves that leaves a big hole in CF which no one in the system can come close to fill. CF is too important for any aspiration to progress in the PS. As I see it Buxton is our only ticket to the dance.

    I can see Buxton on fire in 2021 & beyond, we should make every effort to resign him & keep him healthy but like you said that would be difficult. If it comes down to trading him we have to some how find a replacement & that won`t be cheap. Trading for an ace will also not be cheap because Buxton trade value is not very good (we`ll never get what he`s worth to us)  & that won`t solve our problem because we still  have a glaring hole in CF. It would boil down to this,   we can`t afford a decent replacement or ace so we`d have to get prospects & wait for the future, therefore    Donaldson & Maeda acquisitions would be in vain.

    I see your angle Cody & appreciate it but FO has invested too deeply to attain some success in the PS to give up on Buxton. 

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    Buxton’s trade value may never be higher as he enters the prime of his career and he has two years of team control.

    This is exactly what makes his value as a Twin as high or higher than ever. As Richard posted earlier this morning, no player is off the table. I would trade him and anyone else on the roster if the value of the return was greater than the value of the giveaway. I doubt Falvine are going to get an offer that good because other GM's are very unlikely to offer value higher than Buxton's value to us.

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    Everybody is a potential trade situation if the deal is right.

     This!

     

    There are a lot of options to fill CF if Buck would be traded. I like Springer or Brantley or Pillar. All Free Agents. So if you go that route to replace him then you almost have to think a Pitcher would be acquired in a return trade for Buck. Yeah, do it.

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    Health is a major concern for Buxton, not only his defensive play, but concussions are there as well.  So with that being said, what is his value worth?  $4-$6MM annually for maybe 100 games of action.  Dynamic player, for sure, but he is becoming fragile.  Have to trust the process of seeing what he is worth on the market and go from there. There is never a bullet proof trade in my opinion.  As for Kepler saying it's demanding to play CF, quit complaining about it and do the job asked.

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    My first thought would be to see if we could sign him to an extension like we've done with Kepler, Sano and Polanco.

     

    That way you have payroll certainty and it also makes the player more tradeable because the team acquiring him has that certainty.  I like what Buxton gives the Twins,

    they just have to find a way for him to play 140-150 games consistently.  He's our CF'er.

     

    This is why I talk to a number of teams about Sano.  He's cost certain for several years.  He's got tremendous power.  Teams like Boston and Colorado could use help at 1B.  Cleveland will probably be without Santana.  I move Sano for an elite SS (Story, Bogaerts) or a SP who is at worst a solid #2.  I've got Kiriloff and Rooker RIGHT NOW.  And they have the power hitter they drafted #1 from North Carolina?  Can't remember his name right now, but he projects as a 1B/DH kind of guy.  They could replace Sano.  They can't really replace Buxton right now.

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    I would trade him and anyone else on the roster if the value of the return was greater than the value of the giveaway.

    And every GM on the planet tries to accomplish this.  The thing is, do you get 1 player in return? Two? Three? For every extra player we get in return means each is of lesser value individually. Is that what the Twins need? Or do you keep the impact potential of Buxton and make contingency plans if/when he is out of the lineup? If I'm the Twins GM, I sign Buxton because players like him don't come around often and I make the necessary plans for when he is unavailable.

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    I guess what doesn't make sense to me is this - how can you talk about trading Buxton without even mentioning what the Twins would be looking for in return?

     

    I assume you don't mean prospects, this would be the most unimaginably stupid time to go into rebuilding mode . . . zero percent chance that happens.

     

    So now we're down to trading Buxton for some other MLB position. And what exactly would that be? Utility player? DH? It would be nonsensical to trade Buxton for another position player. So that leaves pitchers.

     

    So what are we expecting for 2 years of an inconsistent player who can't stay healthy? A #3 starter? After the Twins weakness all season was their offense? That makes no sense either.

     

    I just can't picture the realistic return that would justify trading Buxton.

    All of this. Not to mention, the Twins don't have a surplus of CF talent in the pipeline...  I'm not opposed to re-tooling this offseason by trading a core member or 2 away, but I wouldn't start with Buxton.

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    I think that the commenters have really covered the issues - 

    • His track record of injuries means we will not get full value or return
    • We would not be trading him at peak value so maybe if he really shines this year?
    • Our system does not have an adequate, let alone, good, replacement in CF.  Kepler is only a temporary fill in, Cave and Wade are not CFs.  Celestino does not seem ready.  And Lewis would be out of position.
    • Then there is the Torii Hunter example. The Twins tried extending him, but he went off as a free agent and we got nothing.
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    I think trading Buxton is a fair question to ask:

     

    * If he wasn't so injury prone I would say no

    * Can we afford to sign him three years from now? If the answer is no then trading makes sense. If you trade him now, you might not get what you want because of his injury history. If you keep him one more year and he plays 140 games and his power production stays the same as last year or goes up you could get a boatload. But if he only plays 90 games his value will plummet.

     

    I also fair to discuss trading Rosario and Sano .. I have no problem with you not listing trade options in this article. 

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    Offer him an outsized 5-year contract, but with incentive clauses that keep the cost down if he only plays 90 games. If the number is big enough, he will take it. And the incentive clauses are only fair given his track record.

    It takes two to tango and it appears Buxton is set to test FA as soon as he's able to. However, I wouldn't offer him 5 years either way without knowing if he can develop more power. His deadly speed isn't going to last his whole career. 

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    I think that the commenters have really covered the issues - 

            . . .

    • Then there is the Torii Hunter example. The Twins tried extending him, but he went off as a free agent and we got nothing.

     

     

    Well the Twins might get something (i.e., draft pick), depending on what happens with the next CBA.

     

    There's no actual reason the Twins have to trade Buxton even if he's ultimately going to walk. The Twins are trying to win, and Buxton helps them win. Worst case, they can replace him with either a prospect or a less expensive free agent in 2023. There's (hopefully) a lot of baseball to be played before then.

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    I want to say I'd enjoy watching Buxton play for the Twins for years to come.  However, just when you get used to his game-changing ability, you find out he's going to be sidelined.  Numbers probably support, even with his injury filled seasons, he's still one of the most important players on the roster.  That being said, I like dependability and durability.  He just hasn't been consistent in either.  Flashes?  Yes, but consistently, no.

     

    When it comes down to it for me, I just can't get over how often he seems to be in the dugout and not on the field.  It's deflating as a fan.  I couldn't imagine how frustrating it is for Byron.

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    People can disagree all they want with my thoughts. In my opinion if everyone was available that were active for more than half of last season only Kepler & Garver would bring back a premium as position players. 

     

    As for the pitchers, Berrios, Maeda, Pineda, and possibly Duffy and Rogers would bring back a premium in a trade.

     

     

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    It takes two to tango and it appears Buxton is set to test FA as soon as he's able to. However, I wouldn't offer him 5 years either way without knowing if he can develop more power. His deadly speed isn't going to last his whole career.

     

    “Develop more power “?? If Buxton would use his natural talent and develop some base stealing , walk taking and line drive hitting skills, he would become more valuable to the team than the current version. The Twins have enough 20 homer, 230 average guys in the lineup already.

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    It takes two to tango and it appears Buxton is set to test FA as soon as he's able to. 

    Has he commented on this?

     

    (If so, wow they ask them early these days...personally I wouldn't even be having the extend or trade conversation for another year.)

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    Atlanta is not trading Anderson or Fried, the Dodgers are not trading Buehler, Cleveland isn't trading Bieber, and that means the Twins aren't trading Buxton.

    If the Indians will swap SB for BB, sure, do it. Otherwise, the Twins are all in on Byron this year.

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    This is a tough as nails but worthwhile discussion.

     

    He's been injury prone, absolutely. Migraines are something I know about. It would appear he has those under control as I haven't heard a word about them in some time. NOBODY could do ANYTHING about a foot/toe injured while playing. A FB hitting his helmet is also beyond his control.

     

    What IS in his control? Just not diving too often or running in to walls. He started to make that change this past season. But like so many things that happened in 2020, how do we judge Buxton?

     

    He will not be the next Mays or Griffey Jr at this point. And he won't be the next Henderson leadoff hitter we all hoped he would be. I would argue...even with disappointment...so what? He'll only be 27yo next season and has already displayed himself as difference maker when on the field. And he is morphing himself in to a decent power hitter with defense and speed. I'm starting to see him as more of an Jim Edmonds kind of player.

     

    If you can find a taker for a quality player, probably a controllable front of the rotation SP, I MIGHT be willing to make a trade and fill in CF the best you can for now...pending FA and future OF. But I'd much rather bet on talent and potential and a full season of adjusting his defensive/physical game for 2021 and beyond instead of selling relatively low at this point coming off 2020.

     

    I'd bank on Buxton continuing to make adjustments to keep him healthy, playing at least 120 games or more, and re-evaluate.

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    Has he commented on this?

     

    (If so, wow they ask them early these days...personally I wouldn't even be having the extend or trade conversation for another year.)

    They’ve offered him and Berrios extensions the previous 2 offseasons and declined. You need a quote to interpret his intentions?

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    The migraines worry me more than the on-field injuries - that latter classification can be improved somewhat by modifying his behavior, but I don't think they have a handle on the former. And my thinking is that the migraines are not simply an on/off switch, but a spectrum of disablement, that would explain why there are periods where he seems unable to recognize pitches, and other times he can.

     

    I'm sure the team has better medical analysis than my guesswork, though.

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    They’ve offered him and Berrios extensions the previous 2 offseasons and declined. You need a quote to interpret his intentions?

    Agreed, but the landscape looks a little different now with the uncertainties of Baseball's near future. Player financial security might speak a little louder these days and a guaranteed contract probably looks real nice right now.

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    They’ve offered him and Berrios extensions the previous 2 offseasons and declined. You need a quote to interpret his intentions?

    I remember the Berrios extension rumors, but not Buxton. Sorry. No need to be insulting about it.

     

    Also, these are conversations that happen behind closed doors. Contract discussions that make the papers are generally rumors. It's often helpful to get a feel for what's going on, but it's not the full picture. So whatever was reported in 2018 is not necessarily reflective of anything in 2020.

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    Provided the Twins will be able to have some level similar defensive replacement value, I would be in full support of trading buck.  He is one that will not age well because so much of his value is based on speed, and he has never been a super solid hitter, and little faith that will develop at this point.  He has had stretches of great hitting, but stretches of swinging and missing at anything.  

     

    I believe you should always trade a guy a year early, than a year late.  Remember Willingham, he crushed first year with Twins and so much trade chatter was out there, and Ryan held onto him, and then he lost all trade value.  I am not saying we need to trade buck, but I would not say he is untouchable and would listen to deals.  I would not shop him at this point, but if he gets traded I would not be upset, provided the value is there. 

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    Has he commented on this?

     

    (If so, wow they ask them early these days...personally I wouldn't even be having the extend or trade conversation for another year.)

     

    He is worth a lot more in trade with 2 years of control vs 1 so it makes perfect sense they would test his willingness to extend before the last year of his contract. In addition, some players are going to be less inclined the closer they get to free agency.

     

    Having said this ... trading him for an established player(s) is not easy. Anyone interested in trading for him would do so because they are in win now mode. What team is giving up front line pitching when they are in that mode? I don't see us trading for position players. We have a plethora of outfield talent. Replacing any of the infielders would not be enough of an upgrade to make it a net gain losing Buxton in CF.

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