The Minnesota Twins have struggled to reach an agreement with Byron Buxton on an extension, but there are three big reasons he needs to be extended ASAP.
The Minnesota Twins are coming off another disappointing finish to their season, and the team is looking to shake things up. Trade rumors are swirling, the free agent market looks to be an interesting one despite the lack of big names, and there seems like a lot of young talent that will be called up by the team in 2021.
With all that going on, the Twins need to find some continuity, and there’s no better way to get there than by extending Byron Buxton. One of the best defenders in baseball and a cornerstone for the team, Buxton is just reaching arbitration and will only get more expensive. We break down three reasons the Twins should pay their star outfielder.
Minnesota Twins Reason No. 1: Buxton is only going to get healthier
Though it doesn’t feel like it because he was hurt at several key times, Byron Buxton had one of the healthiest seasons of his career. Buxton played in 65% of the Twins’ games in 2020, the second highest percentage of his career. The highest percentage of his career? 86% in 2017.
In both of those years, Buxton finished in the Top 20 of MVP voting and if you rope in 2019 (when he also played in over 50% of his games), Buxton has a combined WAR of 10.0 in 266 games. Those are incredible numbers. As he continues to make smarter decisions, he’ll only play more.
Minnesota Twins Reason No. 2: Buxton is only going to get better
Yes, we’ve been saying this for a while, but this time he really is. When Buxton was healthy in 2020, he was easily the team’s best overall player. He finally unlocked his power stroke and his batting average stayed relatively up compared to 2019. He even made it up to the leadoff spot by the end of the year.
This is a clear sign that things are getting better. He played his usual elite defense while making huge strides on offense. With the Twins getting a full season to display their talent, this will also give Buxton a full year to display all the progress he’s made. He’s just now entering his age 27 season and entering his prime. This also means…
Minnesota Twins Reason No. 3: Buxton is only going to get more expensive
…Buxton’s price tag is going to go up. If the Twins weren’t happy with his price tag in 2020, they definitely won’t be happy with the numbers Buxton will start earning in arbitration. Buxton is scheduled to make $5.9 million this year, nearly doubling his salary of $3.075 million he made in 2020.
In addition, the market for center fielders isn’t a very deep one, so the Twins know they have something valuable. If Buxton has good years in 2021 and 2022, he could fetch north of $15 million a year on the open market.
The Twins can’t let that happen. Locking him in now will allow the team to focus their attention on other positions for the foreseeable future. It also could end up saving the Twins a lot of money in the future. If Buxton and his team would agree to any deal in the $10-15 million a year range, the Twins would be getting an incredible deal.