The Twins have made several roster moves involving notable young players, per a club announcement (via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, on Twitter). Outfielders Byron Buxton and Max Kepler have been optioned back to Triple-A, while righty Alex Meyer has been brought back onto the active roster.
Buxton, still just 22, entered the year once again rated as one of the very best prospects in all of baseball. He struggled in his debut stint in 2015, but hopes were that his bat would catch up to his glove and speed at the major league level. Instead, Buxton has fallen off even further, and owns a .156/.208/.289 slash and 24 strikeouts (with just two walks) over 49 plate appearances.
By sending Buxton down now, Minnesota will give him a chance to regain his footing at Triple-A, where he was successful last year. It also leaves the door open to holding Buxton below one full year of MLB service at the end of 2016. He entered the season with 113 days on his clock, and obviously hasn’t yet accumulated the 59 more days needed to push himself up to 172 days. Needless to say, it’s certainly still possible that Buxton will cross that threshold at some point this year, but that’s no longer a given.
Kepler, meanwhile, was only expected to perform fill-in duty. He skipped the Triple-A level last year, and will head back down to continue his development. Danny Santana has been activated from the 15-day DL, which created the need for another roster spot.
As the Twins temporarily bid adieu to two important young assets, they’ll welcome back another to the big leagues. Meyer, a 26-year-old righty, lost much of his prospect sheen in a rough 2015. But he’s off to a nice start at the highest level of the minors in 2016, having allowed just two earned runs on 11 hits and four walks over 17 1/3 innings, while racking up a healthy 19 strikeouts.
It’s not immediately clear what role Meyer will take when he arrives. He had returned to the rotation this spring, but could certainly be utilized in a setup role for a club that is in need of live arms in the pen. Regardless, it’s time for Meyer to show the organization that he is capable of performing at the major league level. It’s worth noting, too, that despite entering the year with eight days of MLB service, Meyer won’t be able to tally 172 for the present season even if he stays up the rest of the way.