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  • ROSENTHAL: Byron Buxton Trade “Likely”


    Tom Froemming

    Byron Buxton’s future with the Minnesota Twins was among the topics discussed on Tuesday’s episode of The Athletic Baseball Show. Ken Rosenthal did not paint an optimistic picture for Twins fans hoping for a Buxton extension this winter.

    Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk, USA Today

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    Here’s a link to that episode of the podcast, the Buxton discussion starts around the 14-minute mark. 

    Rosenthal said he believes a Buxton trade is “likely” this offseason and that he “expects it to happen.” The reasoning he provided was that Buxton rejected the seven-year, $80 million contract extension the Twins offered him in July and the team “felt this was kind of a gamble to take even offering him $80 million.”

    Rosenthal pointed to the current state of the Twins and argued it’s not a playoff-caliber team due to its subpar pitching staff. He also shared his opinion that it would be better for the Twins to take a step back, trade Buxton, and re-tool for 2023 and beyond. 

    Also on Tuesday, Rosenthal and Dan Hayes published an article at The Athletic on Buxton’s future with the Twins. That piece indicates “many in the industry” are also expecting the Twins to end up trading Buxton. 

    There are several interesting details in that piece, but one that stands out is The Athletic’s sources indicated the Twins weren’t willing to push even the potential value of a Buxton extension — including performance-based incentives — over $100 million.

    Taking a look through a list of the MLB active player contracts at Spotrac, here are some outfielders who’ve signed contracts in the $70-$110 million range in recent years:

    Player Signed Age Years Value AAV
    Charlie Blackmon 31 6 $108M $18M
    Justin Upton 30 5 $106M $21.2M
    Dexter Fowler 30 5 $82.5M $16.5M
    Lorenzo Cain 31 5 $80M $16M
    Aaron Hicks 29 7 $70M $10M
             
    Twins Reported Offer to Buxton        
    Byron Buxton 28 7 $80M $11.4M


    And here’s a look at the value each of those players provided the season prior to signing those deals. These are FanGraphs WAR, Baseball-Reference WAR and Baseball Prospectus’ WARP.

    Player (year prior to signing) fWAR bWAR WARP
    Charlie Blackmon ('17) 6.6 5.5 6.7
    Justin Upton ('17) 5.2 5.7 4.9
    Aaron Hicks ('18) 5.0 4.4 2.9
    Dexter Fowler ('16) 4.6 4.0 1.6
    Lorenzo Cain ('17) 4.2 5.5 6.0
    Byron Buxton ('21) 4.2 4.5 2.8

    The thing to keep in mind with Buxton, of course, is this only accounts for the partial season he played. As you can see, even if that’s how the Twins would prefer to evaluate him — based on his actual past production as opposed to his potential upside if he were to turn in a healthy season — their current offer still doesn’t even stack up all that well.

    If Dexter Fowler was able to secure a $16.5 million AAV four years ago, when he was two years older than Buxton is now, I’d imagine the Twins offer of an $11.4 million AAV was an easy one for Byron and his agency to reject. 

    As someone who is really hoping to see Byron Buxton in a Minnesota Twins uniform for a long time, this is all very concerning. The Rosenthal/Hayes article did mention both sides continue to communicate, but reading between the lines and looking at some of these numbers I cannot imagine they are all that close to coming to terms.

    Under different circumstances, I’d think it might make sense to enter the year with the player on an expiring contract and play things out to see if you can complete. If so, great, you keep him and extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the season, avoiding losing the player for absolutely nothing. If you don’t compete, just trade the guy at the deadline.

    With these particular circumstances, there are some problems. With the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring on Dec. 1, it’s not even certain that the qualifying offer system will be in place in the future. That leaves the door open to potentially losing Buxton for absolutely nothing. The other issue is this is Buxton we’re talking about. As much as I love him and hope they can keep him around, you wouldn’t want to bank on him being healthy come the trade deadline.

    This is a difficult situation and there are a lot of ways this could go poorly for the Twins. The most forgivable one, in my opinion, would be if they extend Byron and he simply never lives up to his salary. As Twins fans, I think for the most part we’re willing to be forgiving if we feel there’s a real effort made (though, like with anything, there are segments of the fanbase who will never be satisfied).

    One way or another, this decision has the potential to weigh heavily on the future of this front office, and this organization as a whole.

    How would you feel if the Twins traded Buxton away this offseason?

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    If we somehow end up trading Berrios and Buxton within a calendar year of each other, I’m going to have to take some time to see if I really want to prioritize the Twins and MLB in my free time. The pain is going to be too much to handle. 

    The FO created 2 self-inflicting, horribly managed situations. There’s still time to right this ship before it’s too late and a trade occurs  

     

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    One problem with trading him would be what would we really get in return? If it was top of the rotation pitching, though unlikely, that might work, but getting a slew of near MLB ready, or put another way, near 40 man roster ready prospects would also cost us players already on the 40 man shortly thereafter. That seems probaly less than OK.

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    Wow, the information you provided kind of changed my mind and is convincing me the Twins SHOULDN’T sign Buxton. All of those players have falling apart or begun to fall apart. Blackmon and Cain were originally worth their contracts but not anymore and the others have been largely disasters. Considering his already extensive injury history, and the fact that you can’t depend on him for many games per year, maybe moving on is acceptable.

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    The Twins are diluting his value.  On one hand they are saying $80MM is a stretch.  But when they turn around and try to trade him any team looking to acquire him will point to that saying he is worth the equivalent of just less than Dexter Fowler if they are going by salary.  Just offer him his worth and if he doesn’t live up to the salary oh well,  It happens, you can’t hit on a big time signing every time.  Sometimes you do other times they get hurt, or just don’t play well enough..  in this case most reasonable fans would be ok as long as they paid him and he got hurt or his play slipped.  Letting him go will not be ok with most reasonable fans.

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    We want top of the line pitchers, but they want top defense, especially centerfield and shortstop. So we let Buxton go, we don't sign one of the top free agent shortstops and we rely on our two on proven prospects to fill the shortstop position. That sure sounds like a great position to negotiate with a ace pitcher that we all dream about. 

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    Have to resign Buxton.  There is plenty of room in their budget. If he is traded Twins would have no shortstop, no centerfielder and not enough starting pitchers. Will not matter how many home runs the Twins can hit with that poor of run prevention.

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    Trading Buxton would not be OK with the fanbase, unless ownership is planning on selling the club, or just wants to make a lot of money (that will end when attendance drops to about 1 million as the Twins struggle).  

    Just pay the man, Twins have enough young pitching to offset for the first  3  - 4 years  with entry level contracts.  Maybe the CBA has a part in this, but you are not going to get value from one of the clubs that is close to the salary (or expected salary cap).  Just get it done and  make us  a contender again.

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    I guess I'm getting tired of the whole Buxton issue.  The Twins are cheap!  But people who say give him whatever he wants are not being reasonable and responsible.  I think people may be too emotionally involved here and overestimating what other teams would offer him once he reaches free agency.  It's a unfortunate mess that the Twins FO put themselves in. .

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    "The most forgivable one, in my opinion, would be if they extend Byron and he simply never lives up to his salary" 

    Spot on. Of all the possible bad outcomes, this is the least bad. I've worked my butt off for 30 years to get to a point where I can now afford an annual Flex 40 plan. Don't make me want to give it up. 

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    13 hours ago, sthpstm said:

    Wow, the information you provided kind of changed my mind and is convincing me the Twins SHOULDN’T sign Buxton. All of those players have falling apart or begun to fall apart. Blackmon and Cain were originally worth their contracts but not anymore and the others have been largely disasters.

    Every player falls apart eventually. And good players often fall apart while they're still under a good contract -- that's just how the system generally works, and teams simply try to position themselves so those "fall apart" seasons/ages don't happen until closer to the end of the contract.

    Lorenzo Cain and Charlie Blackmon started their currents contracts the season they turned 32 years old, and they still performed well for at least a season or two beyond that. Buxton is still only 27 years old, so he has 5 more full seasons until he turns 33.

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    1 hour ago, Dan In Real Life said:

    "The most forgivable one, in my opinion, would be if they extend Byron and he simply never lives up to his salary" 

    Spot on. Of all the possible bad outcomes, this is the least bad. I've worked my butt off for 30 years to get to a point where I can now afford an annual Flex 40 plan. Don't make me want to give it up. 

    Kind of like when they signed Maurer and everyone was ok with his production falling off?

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    I'd be devastated. IMO it's a no brainer to sign him. With a base salary you get Buxton at where he is right now, when he exceed these expectations you pay accordingly. If he maxs out his expectations you get him for around $100M and that's a bargain. How can you be worried about what it costs us if he's winning MVP and put us in a situations to win games. His injuries right now isn't a negative. W/O his injuries we could not afford his $250M price tag. Quit being stupid, ask Buxton for forgiveness in how he has been treated and sign a reasonable base/ incentive extension.

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    1 hour ago, beckmt said:

    Just remember also most national writers have a coast bias, so some of this may be trying to get Buxton to an east or west coast team.  None of those teams (except maybe the Dodgers and the Padres) among the upper teams have a farm system to afford Buxton.

    I generally think this kind of "sports writers are biased" comment is bs, but it does seem that every time a team like the Twins has a good player, everything written about them in the national media seems to focus exclusively on when they can get away from that team and to a big market. So I don't know that it's necessarily an intentional bias, but I def think a lot of national writers tilt toward assuming players should leave any market that isn't NY, Bos, or LA

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    I find it interesting the article points to guys what their WAR was when they signed, but not what it is since they signed.  For me, you never pay a guy for what he did, but for what you expect he will do.  I looked up each one of listed guys since their contracts were signed.  Cain is the only one that even lived up to value in any year, the first year he had a WAR of 6.9.  In the 3 years since his WAR is not even 5 total.  Blackmon has in 4 years a total of 6.3 WAR.  Fowler, has a total of 1.6 WAR in 5 years, ever getting above 2 in a single year.  Hicks I did not find for each year, but last year was negative war of .3 and other years looked similar.  Upton has 1.7 WAR in 4 years, and last three were all negitive.  

    To compare those guys as to why the Twins should pay Buxton based on their WAR the year of the signing is terrible.  They should be caution tales as to why you should not pay Buxton much. None have lived up to their deals for more than a single year, and they are costing their teams a ton of money to produce a negative WAR. 

    Now Buxton is younger than the rest, so maybe he would be fine for more years, but at 7 years he would be a gamble that he will drop off in value.  Much of his value is based on his speed.  When his speed goes as he ages, assuming it will, he will need to carry things with his bat, and we do not know how that will age either. 

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    2 hours ago, beckmt said:

    Just remember also most national writers have a coast bias, so some of this may be trying to get Buxton to an east or west coast team.  None of those teams (except maybe the Dodgers and the Padres) among the upper teams have a farm system to afford Buxton.

    The Yankees do. Easy. They have two highly rated SS, including one that played a bit at AAA. They also have some pitching. 

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    2 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    The Yankees do. Easy. They have two highly rated SS, including one that played a bit at AAA. They also have some pitching. 

    No the Yankees and the Mets have pumps that overvalue to the large audience, their farm system.  Padres and Dodgers are much deeper.  If that was the case why are the Yankees in the hunt for 1 - 2 pitchers in the upper end and 1 - 2 SS also in the upper end.  Mike it does not make sense if the Yankee farm system was that good.

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    19 hours ago, Vanimal46 said:

    If we somehow end up trading Berrios and Buxton within a calendar year of each other, I’m going to have to take some time to see if I really want to prioritize the Twins and MLB in my free time. The pain is going to be too much to handle. 

    The FO created 2 self-inflicting, horribly managed situations. There’s still time to right this ship before it’s too late and a trade occurs  

     

    Van, Those are my thoughts exactly. Since I live in North Carolina,  I know that my not cheering for the Twins and not watching them on tv and not going to Ft. Myers for a week each March, will have no effect on the Twins in their big picture, but life is too short to live with  chronic disappointments which can be eliminated with no harm to anyone, by simply ignoring the events and articles and Florida vacations which bring on doomed expectations every year for 6 months. 

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    In my eyes, trading him is the worst case scenario. If you don't plan on signing him, he either has a great season putting the Twins in contention or raises his mid-season trade value by staying healthy. If he's injured and you still think he could be an asset, maybe a longer-term deal is more reasonable.

    There's always a caveat though - There's the whole "blown away by an offer" scenario. I just hope it takes more to blow away the current F.O. than it was for Bill Smith when dealing Johan Santana.

    I hope a new CBA continues to address competitive balance and strengthens the Twins ability to hold on to players such as Buxton. And not just for the Twins, it's a shame Tampa, Miami, Oakland, and other teams are pillaged every year.

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    If the Twins trade Buxton they better get a haul back including at least one player ready to step in and play in 2022, not just several Hi-A guys with tons of potential.

    It will also signal that they are in full rebuild.  In that case there is no need to sign any top starting pitchers, rather ink one or two older guys to one year contracts.  Finally, if Buxton goes he needs to be accompanied by at least three others...Garver, Donaldson and Sano.  Again, they should get a few more guys back who are ready to move up to Target Field.

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    2 hours ago, beckmt said:

    No the Yankees and the Mets have pumps that overvalue to the large audience, their farm system.  Padres and Dodgers are much deeper.  If that was the case why are the Yankees in the hunt for 1 - 2 pitchers in the upper end and 1 - 2 SS also in the upper end.  Mike it does not make sense if the Yankee farm system was that good.

    You are correct that both the Yankees & Mets prospects are constantly overvalued, however Mike is correct that the Yankees do have 3 highly valued minor leaguers at this time in Volpe, Peraza and Dominguez. 

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    23 minutes ago, Rigby said:

    You are correct that both the Yankees & Mets prospects are constantly overvalued, however Mike is correct that the Yankees do have 3 highly valued minor leaguers at this time in Volpe, Peraza and Dominguez. 

    Yep, trade Buxton for a crap shoot; ah, the Twins return to the mediocre or worse 70's, brilliant.

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    28 minutes ago, Rigby said:

    You are correct that both the Yankees & Mets prospects are constantly overvalued, however Mike is correct that the Yankees do have 3 highly valued minor leaguers at this time in Volpe, Peraza and Dominguez. 

    Dominguez is supposed to be totally off limits.  The other two would not be enough.  We will soon see what happens. Otherwise it will be after the new CBA because taking on salary with an extension would be risky for a big market team.  Twins will never get full value if Buxton is a one year rental.

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    I for one, was O.K. with the Mauer contract.  He never lived up to it, but he was a hometown hero, a former MVP and it would have been a BIGGER disaster to let him get away to the Red Sox or Yankees.  Bigger than letting Buxton go because Mauer PRODUCED before his big contract...consistently.  Buxton has only "teased" with his tremendous ability, but cautions with his inability to stay healthy.

    The biggest problem in trading Buxton NOW is that despite a nice 2021 season (except for the ever present missed games due to injury) his VALUE has never been lower.  The Twins aren't going to get a "transformative" talent of similar ability to Buxton back in any deal.  They just aren't...UNLESS they offer to take back a stinky contract or two from whoever is trading us a prospect. 

    But the biggest disappointment in all this is that to us fans, this isn't rocket science.  Figuring out how to keep Buxton isn't really that tough.  That our FO has put themselves, the team and fanbase in the current situation does not speak well of this FO.  And this is coming off an off season in which they messed up every conceivable move they could have made.  A trade of Buxton and the paltry expected return would pretty much foreshadow the end of the current "boy wonders" in our FO.  However, The fact that Terry Ryan and Billy Smith hung on as long as they did after their well documented blunders leaves a healthy amount of doubt as to whether the Pohlad's actually care enough to make a change.  

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    The Dodgers don't trade their stars - Kershaw, Jansen, Turner, Seager, Taylor because they only have one year left on their contract. They keep them because they make their team better! Then they resign them or not. And their farm system is still arguably better than ours. They certainly develop better pitching than ours. The Braves didn't get rid of Freddy Freeman because they were barely a .500 team in August. I could go on and on. Not all GMs do what ours always do. When you have home grown stars, many keep them. Because they are part of the fans' family, in a sense, and they make the team better. Sure way to make your team immediately worse.......... get rid of your best players.

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    8 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    when he exceed these expectations you pay accordingly. If he maxs out his expectations you get him for around $100M and that's a bargain. How can you be worried about what it costs us if he's winning MVP and put us in a situations to win games.

    Same with player opt-outs. If a player is exceeding his contract by so much that he wants to exercise an opt out that he has, how is that a bad thing? But, we don't offer player options in Twins Territory. 

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