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After he has reportedly rejected a contract extension offer, the Minnesota Twins must pivot and trade Byron Buxton before the deadline.
The Minnesota Twins are a clear seller as next Friday’s MLB trade deadline gets closer, and moving Nelson Cruz was a start. Now, according to Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes of The Athletic, outfielder Byron Buxton has rejected a contract extension offer from them.
Buxton is currently on the IL with what was tabbed as a boxer’s fracture of his left hand. That is just the latest in a long list of injuries he’s had, as his number of stints on the IL is matched only by his potential when he is on the field.
But alas, Buxton has only played 27 games this season and he has played over 100 games in a normal full season just once since first being called up in June of 2015. Sunday’s game will be the Twins’ 100th of this season. Counting that game, which he’ll miss, since the start of the 2018 season Buxton has played in 37.4 percent of the team’s regular season games (181 of 484).
Rosenthal previously reported the Twins offered Buxton, who’s arbitration-eligible a final time this winter, a contract extension worth “in excess” of $70 million with escalators and incentives to further boost the value. No term was mentioned, but let’s assume four or five years. That puts it in the $14-18 million range per year, on the low end before incentives. Rosenthal added Buxton would “likely be dealt” if he rejected the proposal.
The Twins now must try to trade Byron Buxton without bias
When he’s available, Buxton is clearly one of the best players on the field (14.7 career bWAR, 2.9 bWAR this year). But that’s the issue, from running into the center field wall when he refuses to give up on a fly ball to pulled muscles to fluky things like a boxer’s fracture in his hand–he’s never available for long. His next injury is always lurking around the corner, it’s just a matter of what it’ll be.
There’s a case for the Twins to pay Buxton “what he’s worth” over something like a five-year deal, and fans will surely lament the influence of perceived cheap ownership again if they don’t. But there’s an opportunity to sell his lingering star potential to a team in dire need of an outfielder at the deadline (Braves, Phillies, Yankees?), and that opportunity has to be fully pivoted to now.