Byron Buxton Rumors

Twins Activate Byron Buxton From DL, Option Him To Triple-A

The Twins announced today that center fielder Byron Buxton has been activated from the disabled list, but he’ll be optioned to Triple-A as opposed to rejoining the active roster.

Buxton, 21, is regarded as one of the game’s top two prospects and made his Major League debut earlier this season. He didn’t hit much in 11 games before landing on the disabled list due to a thumb injury incurred when sliding into second base on a steal attempt. Buxton batted .189/.231/.270 in 39 plate appearances.

The Twins promoted Buxton earlier this year in an effort to receive more production out of the center field position, but since he landed on the disabled list, Aaron Hicks has come off the disabled list and excelled in the Majors. A former first-round pick and top prospect himself, Hicks has batted .316/.380/.526 in 32 games with Buxton on the shelf.

Buxton was called up from Double-A and had never played at Triple-A prior to his promotion, so a three-game rehab stint there was actually his first action at that level. Buxton went 5-for-12 while rehabbing, and he’ll now have the chance to get some further development time at the minors’ top level. One can imagine that he’ll have the opportunity to come back up in September when rosters expand (if not sooner), depending on his health. That could provide the Twins with a glimpse of a rangy outfield alignment featuring both Hicks and Buxton, which could become a permanent fixture in future seasons.


AL Central Notes: Buxton, Twins, Sox, Ramirez, Royals, Santana

The Twins announced today that Byron Buxton has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a sprained left thumb that was suffered when sliding in an attempt to steal second base on Tuesday. Danny Santana, the club’s Opening Day shortstop, has been recalled to take Buxton’s roster spot. Presumably, Santana could see some time in center field, where he played extensively at the big league level in 2014. Some within the organization tell 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson that Buxton could be good to go within two weeks (Twitter links), but manager Paul Molitor took a more conservative approach, telling Go 96.3 Radio’s Dana Wessel that Buxton could miss a month or more (Twitter link).

More from the AL Central…

  • Twins general manager Terry Ryan spoke with FOX Sports North’s Tyler Mason in a lengthy Q&A, discussing the team’s unexpected status as a contender within the division and the timelines/future roles of some key prospects. Specifically, Ryan said that Miguel Sano‘s bat is well ahead of his glove, adding that while that’s OK, he does need to continue to improve his fielding and all-around game. Regarding Alex Meyer, who was promoted to the Majors for today’s game to join the team’s bullpen, Ryan said the team has not closed the book on Meyer as a starting pitcher. He also addressed the impending return of Ervin Santana and the potential rotation logjam that will face the Twins.
  • Jeff Samardzija spoke with Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune about the likelihood of hearing his name in trade rumors over the coming month due to the White Sox‘ poor standing in the AL Central. Samardzija, who has been traded twice in the past calendar year, said those previous two swaps have helped him learn to ignore the rumors. “It’s easy to get distracted in this game, whether it’s trade rumors or personal life,” said Samardzija. “…It’s so important to make your priorities between the foul lines.” It’s not known for sure that Samardzija will be shopped, but Sullivan notes that the White Sox are willing to part with the struggling Alexei Ramirez. Of course, given Ramirez’s $10MM salary, declining glove and .222/.243/.293 batting line, he’d likely be difficult to move.
  • The Royals are looking at second base, the starting rotation and right field as potential areas to upgrade via the trade market, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star in this morning’s mailbag. However, he notes that GM Dayton Moore has never made a blockbuster addition in July, and opines the team is better than it was in 2014 when it elected not to make a deal and rode its core to the World Series.
  • In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Indians haven’t lived up to expectations to this point and are facing a tough road trip during which they’ll face the Orioles, Rays and Pirates. Rosenthal wonders if Carlos Santana may eventually be made available — a topic on which Jeff Todd and I have speculated regularly on the MLBTR Podcast (including just last week). Rosenthal feels that a team like the Red Sox would have interest in Santana due to his affordable 2016 salary ($8.25MM) and 2017 club option ($12MM).

AL Central Notes: Buxton, Sox, V-Mart, Tigers, Young

Speaking about the team’s recent promotion of top prospect Byron Buxton, Twins GM Terry Ryan told Kris Atteberry of Twins Radio (audio link): “We brought up Buxton because he’s the best one we had available at the time. We have a few guys down there that we considered, but they aren’t as good as Buxton, so we brought up Byron to give him a shot. … I’m hoping that things go well enough that we don’t have to worry about it.” Based on Ryan’s comments, it seems that Buxton will have the opportunity to play his way into a regular role moving forward. A productive Buxton would certainly increase Minnesota’s chances of remaining in the hunt for the division and could also eliminate a potential area of need in trades — an upgrade in the outfield.

More from the AL Central…

  • Asked by MLB.com’s Scott Merkin about the possibility of the White Sox becoming deadline sellers, David Robertson said that he would be understanding of any route that GM Rick Hahn felt was best for the team. “If that happens, you know, that’s just part of the game,” said the closer, who signed a four-year, $46MM contract this winter. “That’s obviously a decision that I’m not even involved in. The organization has to do what’s best for them. If that’s the way this season turns out, then so be it.” Robertson, however, feels that the Sox still have the pieces to contend and believes a turnaround is possible with strong performances against division rivals in Kansas City and Detroit. Chicago is currently seven games under .500 and nine back in the AL Central.
  • Victor Martinez will rejoin the Tigers this weekend in New York and could be activated from the disabled list at that time, writes James Schmehl of MLive.com. Martinez has been out since May 19 but looked strong on a Triple-A rehab assignment to date, going 4-for-12 with a double in 12 plate appearances.
  • In a mailbag column, Schmehl addresses potential trade scenarios for the Tigers this summer, reporting that the team will consider adding starting pitching. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir are two seemingly speculative names tossed out by Schmehl. He adds that Detroit is likely to add a relief arm as well, though not an elite closer like Aroldis Chapman, as the team is happy with Joakim Soria in the ninth inning.
  • In a piece for FOX Sports, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the unique nature of Chris Young‘s ability to drastically outperform his FIP by virtue of consistently posting one of the lowest BABIP marks in baseball. While there’s a good amount of luck involved in BABIP, Young’s extreme fly-ball tendencies — specifically his ability to induce infield flies — has allowed him to post a .240 BABIP dating back to 2006. Cameron notes that in such a heavily analytical era, it’s not surprising that teams were so reluctant to gamble on a 36-year-old soft-tosser with a 5.02 FIP in 2014, but Young’s mastery of a rare skill set has made him a bargain.


Twins Promote Byron Buxton

The Twins will promote top prospect Byron Buxton prior to tomorrow’s game, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

The 21-year-old Buxton is the game’s number one prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. FanGraphs, ESPN’s Keith Law, and Baseball America all ranked Buxton as the second best prospect behind Kris Bryant. Buxton was selected with the second overall pick of the 2012 draft.

The call up is a mild surprise despite the club’s obvious need in center field. Buxton was hitting .283/.351/.489 with six home runs and 20  stolen bases at Double-A. By activating Buxton tomorrow, the Twins should avoid the Super Two cutoff if he remains in the majors for the remainder of the season. No matter how he’s used, he’ll remain club controllable through at least the 2021 season.

Unlike the Bryant promotion, service time considerations don’t seem like a major factor in the Twins decision. Buxton missed most of the 2014 season with various maladies. Given his age and inexperience above the High-A level, it made perfect sense for the club to continue developing him in the minors. Minnesota’s surprise contention and the poor performance of Aaron Hicks may have forced the team to reevaluate their development plans. Hicks is currently day-to-day with an elbow injury, and he’s hit just .247/.293/.301 on the season.

Manager Paul Molitor has not commented on how he plans to use Buxton, but one can assume he’ll play regularly. He may feature prominently in the lineup. He should provide a spark to an offense that has relied heavily on leadoff hitter Brian Dozier, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, and outfielder Torii Hunter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images


Twins Notes: Starters, McGowan, Santana

Here’s the latest from the Twins as they head towards their Monday opener in Detroit…

  • The Twins aren’t looking for starting pitching help right now as they feel they already have enough internal candidates to replace Ervin Santana, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Twitter link).  Mike Pelfrey will step into the rotation while Santana serves his 80-game suspension, with Trevor May and Alex Meyer on hand as depth options.
  • Though the Twins were recently “kicking the tires” on righty Dustin McGowan, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports that the former Blue Jay isn’t going to end up in Minnesota (Twitter link).  The Twins are known to be seeking bullpen help, so they may yet strike a deal with a different player or pick someone up on waivers before Opening Day.
  • Santana’s suspension is the latest blow to Minnesota’s recent history of free agent pitching signings, CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa writes.  While the Phil Hughes signing was a big success, Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco underachieved last season after signing multi-year deals and now Santana will miss the first half-season of his four-year, $54MM contract.  While there’s still lots of time for Santana, Nolasco and Pelfrey to make good on their deals, Axisa notes that the mid-market Twins can’t afford to make expensive mistakes in free agency.
  • Unsurprisingly, Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the club bases its decision to call up prospects not on service time, but on the player’s readiness for the majors.  The service time debate could soon arise in Minnesota when star prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are close to the bigs.  The Twins didn’t delay Joe Mauer‘s service clock in 2004, yet Miller observes that doing so would’ve gained the team an extra year of control over Mauer and possibly saved them some money off the $184MM extension he eventually signed.

Prospect Notes: Nix, Montero, Barnes, Buxton, Meyer

Toronto will host the Pan American Games this summer from July 11 to July 19, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Team USA could field a potent roster headlined by Byron Buxton, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, and others. To be eligible, players cannot be on a 40-man roster. They also need permission from their parent club to participate. Each team is different, but some will probably allow their top prospects to attend. Rangers prospect Joey Gallo could be among the players asked to participate, and GM Jon Daniels likes the idea of his players competing internationally. One wrinkle to watch: the Futures Game takes place on July 12.

Here are more prospect notes from around the league:

  • Pitcher Jacob Nix could be a late first round pick in the upcoming Rule 4 draft, reports Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider required). You may recall Nix’s part in Houston’s Brady Aiken fiasco – he was the player who lost a $1.5MM bonus when Aiken failed to sign. Without Aiken’s expected under slot signing bonus, the club didn’t have the funds to honor Nix’s deal without losing 2015 draft picks and money. Nix is now pitching with IMG Academy, a post-graduate team in Bradenton, Florida.
  • Of the prospects in Mets camp, Rafael Montero is the most likely to make the major league roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The club has plenty of starting pitchers, but they could use Montero out of the bullpen. Others like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will look to make a strong impression while at the big league camp. Remember, an opening day assignment to the majors can affect when a player reaches arbitration or free agency.
  • Due to depth at the major league level, the Red Sox aren’t expected to add a prospect to their opening day roster. However, hard throwing righty Matt Barnes could be among the first called up, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. Barnes pitched a few innings out of the bullpen last season, so he’s already on the 40-man roster. Another prospect with brief major league experience, Garin Cecchini, will work on improving his defensive versatility.
  • The Twins will welcome number one prospect Buxton to their major league camp for the second time, writes Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. However, it’s 29th ranked prospect Alex Meyer who has the best chance to break camp with the club. The giant righty will compete for a spot in the rotation, although he’ll face competition from Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Stauffer, and Trevor May.

Quick Hits: Betemit, Prospects, Cuba, Indians

Free agent infielder Wilson Betemit has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for amphetamine usage, the league announced. Betemit, who turned 33 in November, is currently a minor league free agent. He struggled through 453 plate appearances with the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate last year but is a lifetime .267/.332/.442 hitter in the Majors.

Here are some more notes around the game:

  • The latest top-100 prospect list is out, with MLB.com’s team providing its view of the game’s best young talent in both a list and articles from prospect gurus Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis. MLB.com still sees Byron Buxton of the Twins as the game’s best prospect, placing him above Kris Bryant of the Cubs by a narrow margin.
  • That sort of prospect ranking could increasingly become populated by Cuban ballplayers if changes in diplomatic relations go as far as might be imagined. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez provides an interesting take on that possibility, providing some quotes from notable Cuban ballplayers who are in Puerto Rico for the Caribbean Series.
  • Of course, some of the very best players never receive the recognition of a top prospect. According to Sahadev Sharma, in a piece for FOX Sports, the Indians have been notably excellent at trading for (and developing) high-level big league talent that came unadorned with significant prospect pedigree. Among the team’s recent finds are Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and Yan Gomes. That handful of players led the way for Cleveland last year, accounting for a remarkable 24.8 fWAR.

Quick Hits: Workman, Ogando, Rockies, Loria

Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is the top prospect in baseball, per MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. The Cubs have two prospects in the top five – Kris Bryant (second) and Addison Russell (fifth). The Dodgers have three in the top 13 – Corey Seager (seventh), Julio Urias (eighth), and Joc Pederson (13th). The Cubs and Twins are the two teams with five prospects in the top 50. Here’s more news from around the league.


Quick Hits: Shields, Porcello, Buxton

It’s still unclear where James Shields will wind up, and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tracks Shields’ hard-to-read market, guessing at nine potential destinations for the free agent righty. Topping the list is the Cardinals, who showed some interest in Jon Lester and Max Scherzer and likely have room for Shields in their budget. Still, much about the Shields market remains uncertain, without much reported action from traditionally heavy-spending teams, leaving teams like the Marlins, Astros and Padres near the top of Heyman’s list of possible destinations. Here’s more from around baseball.

  • New Red Sox staring pitcher Rick Porcello is not yet ready to discuss an extension, Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com writes. “I just got here and met the guys last night so I think it’s premature for that,” says Porcello. “I’m just trying to settle in and fit in with everybody, get to know the staff and the guys.” Mastrodonato notes that the Red Sox would also probably like to get to know Porcello a bit better before signing him long-term. With a year remaining before free agency and youth on his side, the 26-year-old Porcello stands to cash in if he has a 2015 season similar to his 2014, when he had a 3.43 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and a stingy 1.8 BB/9 in 204 2/3 innings.
  • GM Terry Ryan says that although the Twins aren’t planning to have top prospect Byron Buxton break camp with the team, Buxton could make his big-league debut at some point during the season, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Buxton only recently turned 21, has only a few plate appearances in the high minors, and missed most of the 2014 season with a wrist injury, so such an aggressive promotion schedule would be unusual for most players, particularly given the Twins’ typically cautious approach. Buxton has exceptional tools, however, and MLB.com currently rates him the top overall prospect in the game, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the Majors at some point this season.

AL Notes: Twins, K-Rod, Aoki, Scherzer

Twins youngsters Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are still among the top prospects in the game, despite losing most of 2014 to injuries, writes Jim Callis of MLB.com. Buxton suffered a concussion and injuries to both wrists last season, while Sano missed the season after requiring Tommy John surgery. Callis doesn’t see a promotion for either prospect until next August or September since the pair have to make up for lost development time. Of course, considerations such as Super Two eligibility also come into play.

  • The Blue Jays have Francisco Rodriguez on their radar but still prefer to fill their ninth-inning void via trade rather than free agency, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Last week, Heyman reported that the Jays were prioritizing the closer position and looking at the trade market to fill the need. A few days later, MLBTR readers voted in favor of K-Rod when he was pitted against Rafael Soriano and Casey Janssen in a Free Agent Faceoff of the market’s top remaining closers. Of nearly 15,000 respondents, more than 39 percent preferred Rodriguez.
  • Earlier this morning, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Orioles are maintaining some level of interest in both Colby Rasmus and Ichiro Suzuki, and he now adds Nori Aoki‘s name to that list as well (Twitter link). Baltimore’s interest in Aoki has been previously reported to be limited, though that was earlier this month when the market had more options available. Scarcity in the outfield may have increased Aoki’s appeal.
  • While there’s been some speculation connecting the Red Sox and Max Scherzer, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford doesn’t believe that Boston will sign the ace right-hander. Bradford writes that the Sox have preferred Jon Lester to Scherzer from the start, and they clearly drew a firm line in the sand in regards to their negotiations with Lester. One source tells Bradford that he thinks connection to the Red Sox is simply a ploy by Scherzer and agent Scott Boras to pressure the Yankees into becoming aggressive with Scherzer.