The Twins and franchise cornerstone Byron Buxton have been unable to come to terms on a contract extension, increasing the likelihood of a full-scale sell-off before Friday’s trade deadline. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes report that the Twins’ initial offer was for $73MM over seven years with an unspecified number of incentives. The Twins “increased the guarantee slightly,” but not enough to come to a long-term agreement. The final guarantee increased to $80MM, tweets The Athletic.
The end result here is not surprising, given the muddled valuation process for a talent like Buxton. When he’s at his best, he’s one of the best players in the game, a five-tool player capable of anchoring a first-division lineup on both sides of the ball from a premium position. The injury concerns, however, have limited his contributions and saddled him with a tricky long-term risk profile.
This season perfectly illustrated the dichotomy of Buxton as a team-building asset. In 27 games, he made 110 trips to the plate and accrued an insane 2.7 fWAR with a .369/.409/.767 line, good for a 217 wRC+. But 27 games of MVP-caliber production from Buxton wasn’t enough to keep the Twins anywhere near contention. They currently have a 0.0% chance to make the playoffs, per Fangraphs.
Buxton went on the injured list with a hip strain from May 7th to June 16th, by which point Minnesota’s shot at the playoffs was already slim to nil. He was back for less than a week before breaking his hand and returning to the injured list. Because he’s still out, there’s very little chance that the Twins might move Buxton now.
Instead, they’ll wait for the offseason and re-evaluate. Even just one season of a healthy Buxton ought to pique the interest of a few teams around the league who might be willing to take a chance on keeping him healthy.
The question now is whether Minnesota’s inability to lock up Buxton long-term will push them to be more aggressive in offloading assets like Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers. Both are under team control through 2022, like Buxton. Both are key cogs in a potential contender in 2022, like Buxton.
With Nelson Cruz already gone and the rest of the present-day roster not looking much like a contender, the Twins may already doubt their chances to battle an increasingly indomitable White Sox team next season.
If Berrios ultimately gets moved in the next week, we’ll know the Twins’ thoughts about next season. If he stays, the Twins may be preparing for one final run with Berrios and Buxton under contract. Either way, it’s looking increasingly likely that Buxton’s long-term future resides somewhere other than Minnesota — where he can tantalize and frustrate a different fanbase.