Buxton, Twins interested in a long-term extension, though no deal is close just yet
Buxton could be the Twins' new face of the franchise
The Minnesota Twins were one of baseball's biggest surprises in 2017, authoring an unlikely 85-win season that netted them a spot in the American League Wild Card Game. The Twins have since had a busy offseason, making move after move with an eye on returning to the postseason. They've either signed or traded for Jake Odorizzi, Logan Morrison, Fernando Rodney, and Addison Reed, among others, addressing each unit of their roster.
While most Twins fans are hoping the club makes one more free-agent addition -- adding a Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb to the rotation -- it seems like Minnesota's next big splash could be signing center fielder Byron Buxton to a long-term extension:
Buxton, about to enter his age-24 season, is coming off his best year at the plate. He hit .253/.314/.413 (94 OPS+) with 16 home runs and 29 steals on 30 attempts. He's an elite-level defender and baserunner alike, and Baseball Reference's WAR model suggests he was worth five wins -- or above all-star levels. Add in his age and prospect background (he was ranked either the best or second-best youngster in the game by Baseball America three years in a row), and there's ample reason to believe he could continue to improve upon his marks.
As such, locking in Buxton would be a sensible play for the Twins. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time after the season, at which point he'll have three more years of team control remaining. Sure, re-signing Buxton will cost some coin -- he's a former no. 1 pick who received a $6 million signing bonus -- but the Twins have the means: they're about to enter their fourth Opening Day in a row with a payroll exceeding $100 million, and after this year they'll shed Joe Mauer's $23 million salary (not to mention Brian Dozier's $9 million).
That doesn't mean a deal will get done, but it does mean there's reason to believe this one has potential.
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