Outdoor baseball, with a chill in the air, hotdogs, popcorn, and loud sold-out stadiums, is what you think of with October baseball. Historically, you think of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros as October teams, just to name a few. It is time to start thinking about the Minnesota Twins when you mention the words "playoff baseball".
This year was a start, but not the ending the team was looking for.
By now enough time has passed to reflect on the 2023 exit from the postseason in the ALDS. Players have cleaned out their lockers and the offseason is underway. With that being said, it is time to look forward to next season and how the team can build on the success. The Twins are looking to make playoff games a regular occurrence, but winning a championship is no easy task. This offseason the Twins will need to evaluate all aspects to determine what worked and what needs improvement to avoid another early October exit.
Looking ahead to the Twins offseason To-Do list
What happens with Byron Buxton?
First and foremost, the Twins need to get all-star Byron Buxton healthy again.
When he signed an extension, Buxton was expected to be the Twins starting centerfielder. However, he struggled with injuries all season and only managed seven innings of defensive work -- none at the Major League level. Once the season ended Buxton had an arthroscopic surgery with the goal to relieve irritation related to patellar tendinitis.
"The hope here is in just a few short weeks he's getting moving around again and starting to go through physical therapy in the offseason. We're hopeful that this will get him on track," Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said after the season. "It obviously was not the season Byron wanted from a physical standpoint. We did all we could throughout the course of the year to try to put him in the best position to be successful. He worked really hard."
Relegated to the team's DH role, things weren't much better. Buxton played in 85 games and posted a batting average of .207 with 17 home runs. Even though he has struggled with injuries his entire tenure in Minnesota, a healthy Buxton can change a team. In 2017, Buxton missed only two weeks, playing in 140 games, and winning a Gold Glove.
Will he be able to play the field? Should he just become the team's new designated hitter?
The hope is that Buxton gets healthy enough to his everyday role in center. If this won't be the case, the Twins will need to look at either the free agent market or a trade to help provide assistance.
That is the type of season he needs to have in 2024. If he does there is no doubt his contributions to the team will be a significant part of a deep playoff run.