Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is undergoing surgery to fix his left (non-throwing) shoulder labrum, skipper Rocco Baldelli told reporters including Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). That’ll obviously end his 2019 season.
It had emerged earlier today that some kind of surgical outcome was likely. But this still represents a major development in the situation. Precise details of Buxton’s procedure remain unknown — and will depend upon what’s found by surgeons — but the baseline expectation is of a five-to-six-month recovery process. (Via Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com, on Twitter.)
Spring Training will begin in mid-February of 2020. That’ll be right at the six-month mark from today’s procedure. Depending upon the severity of the damage, extent of the work, and course of rehab, it seems Buxton’s full availability at the outset of camp is possible but hardly assured.
The Twins will be gathering information on Buxton’s progress and outlook throughout the rehab process. But the club is going to have to account for the uncertainty in some manner. Just how it might impact the offseason decisionmaking remains to be seen.
As we examined further in the above-linked story, this news will force the Twins into a sub-optimal outfield alignment down the stretch and into the postseason. It takes a player out of the mix who had been playing at a 5 to 6 WAR full-season pace. Looking forward, Buxton’s limited playing time will limit his ability to secure a big raise on top of his current salary of $1.75MM, though his strong offensive numbers will certainly support a bump. A Super Two qualifier this year, Buxton remains eligible to go through the arb process three more times.