For months I have been tweeting that the Minnesota Twins need to pay Byron Buxton. There has never been a point at which that should have been anything close to an uncertainty. Today, it became reality.
The Twins centerfielder has received MVP votes twice in his career. He has an .887 OPS over the past three seasons, and he was barreling towards and MVP award prior to injury this past season. Therein lies the rub. Minnesota was only in a position to sign their superstar thanks to his injury history. Missing games is the reason Buxton wouldn’t have received the $300 million payday in free agency, and it’s the necessary push needed to negotiate an extension with the mid-market club.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece for Twins Daily looking at the parallels between Buxton and Minnesota’s last mega-star, Joe Mauer. The hometown hero was paid $184 million because of his exploits prior to injury, and then denigrated in his later years because of them. On the flip side, Buxton is being shorted because of his injury history and leaves the Twins ample opportunity to experience value-based riches in the future.
Just two seasons ago this same front office paid a 34-year-old Josh Donaldson $100 million for four seasons. He’s dealt with chronic calf issues for much of his later career and they still took that gamble. Nabbing a 28-year-old star in Buxton for that same amount and tacking on an additional three years is nothing short of larceny.
We can go rounds as to whether Buxton is injury-prone or a byproduct of unfortunate circumstance. There was a time he was running into walls and his all-out style had him in precarious positions. Breaking a bone after being hit by a pitch or suffering a concussion following a dive onto grass certainly shouldn’t be assumed as indicative of future issues. No matter what happens, Byron would be the first person to wish for a clean bill of health, even while not being able to reap the rewards of a payday it would produce.
There’s been plenty of reason to question this front office and the noise that’s been made public regarding roster construction over the past few months. This extension alone was the largest opportunity to call the offseason a failure and is now done and over with. It’s time they continue to supplement around a lineup bolstered with talent, and that remains to be seen.
No matter what happens from here though, they paid the man.