The Twins front office showed off some excellent negotiating skills to retain and extend outfielder Byron Buxton, keeping the brilliant but often injured Buxton in Minnesota on a seven-year, $100 million deal.
Frankly, it’s a steal of a deal for the Twins who agreed to a number of incentives on paper that could pay Buxton quite a bit more if he meets certain thresholds, such as 500 or more plate appearances in a season or finishes in the top 10 of the American League MVP vote.
But let’s be honest Twins fans: Buxton isn’t likely to meet any of them. He has made 500 or more plate appearances only once in his career and the two times he did receive MVP votes, he finished 16th and 18th. All of which means, short of hitting the incentives, is a $9 million salary in 2022 and $15 million per season after that, which is probably the going rate, and no more, for a player of Buck’s abilities.
And for Buxton, it strikes me as a bit of capitulation to the Twins.
After all, Buxton previously rejected an $80 million offer from the Twins, then settled for an amount that wasn’t that much higher. So what happened? My guess is that Buxton and his representative quickly determined that the trade market for Buxton wasn’t so hot. The challenge for him, of course, has always been his health. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance on the base paths, in the field and with the bat, Buxton’s durability problems have limited him to an average of 70 games per season over his seven seasons with the Twins. In fact, when he was first offered the $80 million contract, he was on the injured list at the time. I, for one, thought he was crazy to reject it.
Still, it’s clear that Buck has meant a lot to the Twins. The team is 118-69 with him in the lineup over the last three seasons, and his wins above replacement rating of 4.5 in 2021 was the highest single-season mark in MLB history for 61 games, according to AP, which cited Baseball-Reference.com.
After the Twins and Buxton struck their interesting deal, the Twins went bottom feeding again and came up with a one-year, $5 million deal for right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy, who spent this past season with the Los Angeles Angels and pitched to a 6.06 ERA.
Despite Bundy’s promising strikeout rate, a check of social media showed that Twins Territory was far from thrilled with the announcement and neither was I. The problem is that this kind of deal, which baseball insiders often tout as low risk, is also often low reward. Don’t believe me? Then you don’t remember Rich Hill, Matt Shoemaker, Homer Bailey and J.A. Happ. I believe they were all touted as low-risk signings, too.
-Well, it finally happened. Longtime Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, both 83, were elected Sunday to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022, according to MLB.com. Also getting the nod were Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso, Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil.
“This is truly a gift,” Kaat told MLB.com. “I truly never thought this day would come. But the added happiness I have is I get to share it with my teammate Tony Oliva, who I have known for so long since he came up as a kid and developed into a Gold Glove outfielder. For us Minnesota Twins, it’s going to be a great summer.”
“To be able to get that call. … You know, I’m 83 years old,” said Oliva to MLB.com, “to be alive and to be able to say hello to the people and thank you to the people means a lot to me.”
Congratulations to two deserving Hall of Famers.