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:
|Twins Reported Offer to Buxton|
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?