Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account
  • Twins Are Rebuilding, Not Retooling, if They Trade Buxton


    Cody Pirkl

    When Jose Berrios was traded last season, the front office described the next chapter as a retool rather than a rebuild. Now rumors swirl of a Byron Buxton trade. Make no mistake, if these rumors come to fruition, there is no such thing as a retool.

    Image courtesy of Jon Durr, USA Today Sports

    Twins Video

    The Twins find themselves in a difficult situation this winter. After trading their #1 starting pitcher in Jose Berrios, they’re left with only two rotation spots tentatively spoken for, each by a rookie. A pitching staff that sunk the former back-to-back AL Central champs has to be completely reworked on the front end with significant needs in a bullpen that struggled as well. 

    Shortstop, the quarterback of the infield, is also vacant and will require a legitimate impact addition in order to help propel the team back into contention. In addition to on-field tangibles, they’ve also lost the leader of their pitching staff in Berrios, as well as the leader of the team as a whole in Nelson Cruz. A path to a comeback in 2022 is a bumpy one, but it could certainly be done.

    What can’t be recovered from, however, is adding center field to the list of vacancies. 

    Center field is one of the most important everyday players on any baseball team. In Minnesota, the player manning the position has been the reason the team has sunk or swam. Since the Twins rise to success in 2019, they’ve been 100-64 with Buxton on the field and 106-106 without him. Correlation does not equal causation, but there’s no denying those numbers are indicative of Buxton’s impact when you watch him on the field.

    Some have called for Buxton to be traded in the past, mainly due to his long list of injuries. There’s no stopping such an opinion, but those who hold it have to realize what they’re advocating. The Twins almost certainly surpass the point of no return if they choose to field a team without Byron Buxton.

    The best case scenario following a Buxton trade, regardless of the return, is to sell off literally everyone else. Pay part of Josh Donaldson’s contract to get the best possible return. Take advantage of the need for catchers across the league and get a haul for Mitch Garver. See if anyone is willing to make an offer for Taylor Rogers. 2022 will certainly be a wash, and these players would offer more value on the trade market than on a losing team.

    Does that reality sound painful? Try the alternative where the Twins trade one of the best players in baseball and try to compete in 2022. The path to doing so without emptying the farm system or spending an unrealistic amount in free agency simply doesn’t exist. Pretending that the team marches into the playoffs in 2022 without Buxton manning center field would set Twins baseball back years. At least Option A gives full attention to collecting young talent to try to develop a new core for the near future.

    The team still has a path to contention in 2022, and even if that doesn’t work out, their upcoming prospects should position them well for 2023. Extending Byron Buxton is a vote of confidence not only in the front office's ability to rebound, but in the current core that’s in place. Trading Byron Buxton is waving a white flag on both fronts.

    The next move by the front office won’t be forced. It’s a choice. Byron Buxton isn’t asking for anything near record-setting money. There is no better player they’ll ever find to man center field, and the one they have is a home-grown fan favorite. Such a move by the front office would be giving up on a two-year window that earned them so much praise despite it never having been capitalized on.

    In six years this front office has inherited a stinker of a team and converted it into a core of players that once had fans thinking the stars are the limit. Now they sit on the edge of a decision that would rightfully leave fans wondering “What was it all for?”.

    For more Twins content: 
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here

     Share


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Featured Comments

    10 hours ago, bean5302 said:

     …where again, until the last 10 games of the year, he was like 2.5 fWAR. 

    IfI understand this right wouldn’t that mean in 10 games he was able to produce 1.7 fWAR to get to his 4.2 for the season? 

    Wow! I want that player on my team. I would pay up big for that kind of talent. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The frustrating thing for me is that if the incentives really kick in it's because Buxton is playing and performing well.  That translates into winning more games.  How is this a bad thing financially for the Twins?  Seems the very outcome of win-win everyone would want.  

    Seriously, what's so hard to understand about this?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    10 hours ago, bean5302 said:

    No. As a rookie Buxton produced 0.1 fWAR. Then 1.5, then 3.6, then -0.3, then 2.7, then 1.2 before this past season... where again, until the last 10 games of the year, he was like 2.5 fWAR. 

    If you exclude the final ten games, his games played drops all the way down to 51.

    So yeah, the guy had a 2.5 fWAR through 50 games played...

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I've always said, if Buxton is simply "playing" the benefit will be there for the Twins.  That's why 7-years for $105 million ($15 base salary) and incentives simply for "Games Played" is a very LOGICAL strategy for the Twins.  Buxton is just starting to come into realizing his talent.  He really only needs "health" and the results/payoff will be there.  This is not rocket science.  It is easy math.  I agree with what tony&rodney pointed out earlier.  Baldelli is not any better as a manager than Paul Molitor was.  In fact, I think Molitor was better.  But Rocco was supposed to embrace "analytics" and that's what Falvey & Levine were supposed to do as well.  The Pohlad's wanted a FO that was analytic driven, probably to justify capping what the payroll would be.  Supposedly then,  the Pohlad's could point to the "analytics" and say, "we simply can't pay (insert player X) that much money.  The analytics don't allow it."  Minneapolis/St. Paul is the 15th largest TV market in the nation.  But the narrative we've been fed for decades is that the Twins are a "small market team."  Not true.  We should be middle of the pack at worst.  I understand how the payroll could rise and fall within certain parameters depending on our ability to "contend."  But in the A.L. Central, to not have a chance to "compete" means you've let the roster go to pot in a very bad way.  Tony&Rodney is right.  The ability to re-sign a major part of your team like Buxton or Berrios really isn't so much a FO decision as it is a commitment  (or lack thereof) by OWNWERSHIP.  

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    49 minutes ago, heresthething said:

    The frustrating thing for me is that if the incentives really kick in it's because Buxton is playing and performing well.  That translates into winning more games.  How is this a bad thing financially for the Twins?  Seems the very outcome of win-win everyone would want.  

    Seriously, what's so hard to understand about this?

    Actually, it means he is playing it has nothing to do with how well he is playing.  The CBA prohibits any of the incentives to be based on quality of performance.  Try to get that deal working in any other profession.  If I show up, I want you to pay me like an elite performer regardless of how I perform.  I really hope they sign him too but I don't have any problem understanding their caution.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    52 minutes ago, Sconnie said:

    Really good post! Well written/articulated

    I agree with you of the enormous opportunity in front of the FO and the risks involved for this offseason.

    I think about what it might look like trading Buxton or Garver (or both) for prospects that could be a package for Frankie Montas? The As don’t want Buxton or Garver, but do have pitching to spare and want to reduce payroll.

    A trade like that and a free agent like Ray on a 5+ year 100+ mil contract, 2022 would hurt less and ‘23 might be given a head start because more of the hitters in your scenario have big league experience than the pitchers.

    I would classify it as a rebuild (to Cody’s point) but a quicker rebuild than the Orioles saga.

    Thanks! I agree with you. There are basically two cores right now. The existing core which is still young and inexpensive and the 2023 core which is larger, even cheaper, and arguably more talented given the pitching depth. Regardless of how 2021 turned out, if one flips their mindset to think of the 2023 core as a better foundation on which to build, you look at the scenarios around the current assets and or prospective acquisitions (e.g. Ray or Montas as you've noted) and the 2022 season much differently.

    It's also quite possible that the Twins and Buxton are in agreement on this approach. Maybe Buxton wants to see how the Twins fare on 2022 pitching acquisitions. Maybe they're in agreement that if the Twins can bring in some pitching talent to improve the 2022 outlook AND supplement the 2023 core then it makes sense for him to stay. And if not then it makes sense to cash in Buxton's value in a trade and set him up for a big pay day with someone else.

    All this to say I have no problem with Falvey's comments about navigating the market. It's also why I still think signing Buxton makes sense since we're not talking about 20-30mil AAV.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    9 hours ago, JYTwinsFan said:
    It's true that if the Twins trade Buxton, they are admitting to not being competitive in 2022. But it won't be because they trade Buxton. If they are not able to find three quality and experienced starting pitchers, it is not realistic to assume they have a shot at the playoffs...probably not even a .500 record. There's a significant chance that they'll simply lose out on most if not all quality experienced starters. If the reality is that 2022 is a lost cause anyway, does that change our view of a potential Buxton trade?
     
    I think we should consider a new term in addition to "Rebuild" and "Retool". "Rebuild" suggests a team is tearing down to the studs, restocking a depleted farm system, and trading away high priced established stars in their prime in the hopes of returning to competition in 4-5 years. "Retool" suggests a team was recently competitive (meaning you weren't in last place this year) that's shuffling the deck chairs a bit to address a need or maybe up the ante due to a competitor in your division on the rise. Though there are elements of both that apply to the Twins, I think the FO believes they are in a unique situation.
     
    Consider the following:
     
    Position
    Kiriloff  (1B?)
    Arraez (2B?)
    Miranda (3B?)
    Lewis  (SS?)
    Jeffers / Garver (C)
    Larnach (RF?)
    Celestino (CF?)
    Martin (LF?)
    Rooker (DH?)
     
    SP
    Winder
    Balazovic
    Duran
    Sands
    Woods-Richardson
    Ober
    Ryan
    Strotman
     
    RP
    Alcala
    Moran
    Thielbar
     
    That's an awful lot of multi-year controllable major-league-ready (by 2023) talent across every position on the field. Though there are obvious question marks there and some of that talent will take time to establish quality major league effectiveness, regardless, after 2022 no one on that list will, in theory, have anywhere to go or anything left to prove in the minors. They kinda have to be with the Twins in 2023 at some point, or they're gone for one reason or another. If anyone on that list were a bust, it would be seen as a failure of drafting, development, or evaluation from multiple sources...so this is not fringe talent we're pinning our hopes on, even if they are not all current/former Top 100 prospects.
     
    Which means that as we sit here ahead of the 2022 season...everyone on this list below is essentially expendable by 2023 or sooner in the sense that there is a legitimate prospective player ready to take their place:
     
    Polanco (team friendly control)
    Kepler (team friendly control 
    Buxton
    Sano (team friendly control)
    Rogers
    Donaldson
    Maeda (team friendly control)
     
    Whether quantity or quality, what could you add to the 2023-2027 major league roster noted above by trading the 7 (or 6 if you don't count an injured Maeda) players here? A few solid pieces at the very least. With a tiny payroll over those years, what kind of top dollar FA acquisition could you make to supplement a winning team?
     
    FWIW I think the Twins should sign Buxton to a contract of 100mil / 7 years for no other reason than inflation...in 5-7 years 14mil AAV for an average player will be commonplace (seems like it already is!). And I think they should keep Polanco cause he's very good and he and Buxton would be the veteran leaders for a young team. Heck I'm even fine with them signing an expensive FA shortstop now if they can free up the salary space to do it. I'm not in favor of trading big league ready prospects for 1 year of a pitcher (e.g. Manea) just to be mediocre in 2022.
     
    But to circle back to the original point...I don't think that "Rebuild" or "Retool" accurately describe the unique situation the Twins FO believes they are in. And I think 2022 might be a lost cause anyway if all you can scrape together are Pineda and 2 x J.A. Happs. I do know that their decision-making in this moment will define the next 10 years, so though I give them the benefit of the doubt...the pressure is most certainly on.

    Very, very, intriguing.  I am keeping this in my head as they make their moves.  If they are going to go the low payroll route, this would be the way.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    On 11/20/2021 at 8:53 AM, tony&rodney said:

    "In six years this front office has inherited a stinker of a team and converted it into a core of players" ...

    Just my take, but the current FO does the best that they can to put a team on the field that can play competitive baseball  given their orders from above. The core of the current team was in place when they came, in fact. The previous FO also did what they could given their orders from above. The evidence would suggest that Ryan, etc. faced more restrictions than Falvey. TD needs to pull away from the idea that folks such as Gardenhire, Molitor, Ryan, etc. were inferior in any way to Baldelli, Falvey, etc. Baldelli and Falvey are good baseball people as are the others. The current group has less experience than the former but are learning. The Buxton conversation and the challenges of this offseason will test Falvey. A more important question concerns the view from above Falvey. The Twins cannot make the moves needed if the budget falls below $120 million and it may be set considerably lower. We just don't know. 

    The premise of the post of the post is arguably correct. If Buxton goes, there is virtually no way the Twins are competitive for the next five years unless the budget suddenly goes to the $145-160 million range. A budget of that size changes the entire narrative. Buxton goes though and the core is broken. 

    Lastly, I want to note that we still don't know whether Buxton actually wants to remain with the Twins. We also don't know what value Falvey places on Buxton. Those are two important answers to a puzzle. What tolerance does Twins Territory have for a rebuild? My guess - very little.

    Tolerance? For years we were told they needed a better stadium so they could raise more revenue to compete. They finally got their stadium. Now its time to be compete and they can fill that stadium. If they need more revenue maybe they should push some of the east and west coast greedy uber rich teams that seem to be able to throw money around for a bigger piece of the pie!

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    17 hours ago, strumdatjag said:

    Has anyone considered that Buxton may want to prove himself in 2022 in order to get a better contract in FA after the season?   Not a slight on the Twins, but consider what logically could be “reality.”

    I suspect that Byron likely views himself as a victim of freak injuries (2021’s wrist injury) and “running into walls” injuries that he believes he is now able to avoid as a smarter, seasoned, veteran player.  However, the Twins can’t afford to let him “play it out” (and join next year’s off-season bidding war).   The Twins are more likely to get a good return this offseason than mid season 2022.   If they are contending in midseason 2022, the option to trade Buxton is off the table completely.  Now is the the time to make an effort to sign him, but upon being rejected - TRADE BUCk.  That may be REbuilding; it may be REtooling: but it is likely to be REality.  

    I don't really agree with you on that. I truly want the Twins to re-sign him, however, if he has a good to great start to the seaso he good bring a real haul at or around the deadline. Just look what Cruz brought back. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    TheTwins farm system is currently rated about middle, #15 or so. The Twins best pitching prospects, which we all  look forward to watching, are not among the top ten rated minor league pitchers. Royce Lewis and Austin Martin are the two Twins rated highly (top fifty) and both have questions about their position. While I think the Twins have some solid prospects, there is a glaring lack of defense among those players and without the current core as teammates, specifically Buxton and Polanco, the Twins would suffer growing pains for more than just a year. Berrios struggled, Viola struggled, and most young pitchers and everyday players do until they gain several years of experience. When blended into a lineup of proven players, prospects often do better because of reduced expectations. Like everyone else I'm guessing but a team of prospects doesn't look good to me and it also seems unnecessary because the Twins can navigate through this offseason positively if they are willing to take a few risks through trades. Free agents may fill one or two spots but without making 2-3 trades, the 2022 Twins will be in a world of hurt. I'm waiting, like you, to see what plan is executed over the next few months.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

    Actually, it means he is playing it has nothing to do with how well he is playing.  The CBA prohibits any of the incentives to be based on quality of performance.  Try to get that deal working in any other profession.  If I show up, I want you to pay me like an elite performer regardless of how I perform.  I really hope they sign him too but I don't have any problem understanding their caution.

    True, good point to make Major league.  We can't assume just because he is playing the performance will be there too but on the other hand he appears to have figured some things out at the plate which IF it carried forward would be high to elite level of overall play.  

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    17 minutes ago, heresthething said:

    True, good point to make Major league.  We can't assume just because he is playing the performance will be there too but on the other hand he appears to have figured some things out at the plate which IF it carried forward would be high to elite level of overall play.  

    Honestly, I don't know what to think.  He was incredible early this season.  One the other hand, that was a very small sample compared to 5 years of very modest offensive performance.  I find myself hoping they sign him but if I get objective for a moment it could be detrimental to the team if they get exactly what they got the last 5 years.  Yet, I am still hoping they sign him because I want to believe he will perform more like the early 2021 season and less like previous to this season.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    On 11/20/2021 at 1:49 PM, bean5302 said:

    Buxton has produced less than 2.0 fWAR per season across his career. He was under 2.5 fWAR until the last 10 games of the season this past year. A player like that doesn't make the difference between retool and rebuild. What they replace Buxton with will make the difference.

    If you ignore ALL the games Buxton played he has ZERO WAR!!1!

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Lets assume we do not trade him, what is the plan to address the 81 plus games he will not play due to injury?  He may be one of the best players when he is on the field, but he lacks one of the best abilities in the game.  Availability. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    6 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

    I find myself hoping they sign him but if I get objective for a moment it could be detrimental to the team if they get exactly what they got the last 5 years.  Yet, I am still hoping they sign him because I want to believe he will perform more like the early 2021 season and less like previous to this season.

    This is, more or less, exactly the argument the keep Buxton crowd is making. We want to believe. Who has has the talent to replace Buxton? Answer = nobody .... if Buxton is healthy and playing. So, yes, it comes down to taking some risks and losing the gamble would suck but not be as bad as not taking a chance. Take the shot and hit it. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    IF Buxton is not traded.  He will reign in his on field efforts to enable himself to stay uninjured through the season so he can "cash in" at  the season's end.  No highlights in 2022 of Buxton crashing into walls, diving to make catches: it's all about posturing for a big payoff.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    On 11/20/2021 at 9:43 AM, TopGunn#22 said:

    Cody, I am handing you a "hammer" because you just nailed it !  There is no realistic scenario to the Twins being competitive if Buxton is traded.  There are dozens of instances where a team lost their best or a couple of their best players and actually over achieved.  The best case in my mind is the post Ken Griffey Jr./Randy Johnson Mariners that won 114 games.  I look back and STILL can't believe it actually happened.  

    Having a ROY and MVP join your club that year (Ichiro) certainly helped ease the loss of Griffey. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    On 11/21/2021 at 6:53 PM, Jacksson said:

    IF Buxton is not traded.  He will reign in his on field efforts to enable himself to stay uninjured through the season so he can "cash in" at  the season's end.  No highlights in 2022 of Buxton crashing into walls, diving to make catches: it's all about posturing for a big payoff.

    This is based on what previous proof?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites




    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...