MLB Hot Stove League = Player Movement & Innuendo

howeda7

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Minnesota is almost always going to have to significantly overpay to get top starting pitchers. Just paying a little bit more than everyone else won’t get it done most times. I love having an outdoor stadium but it does put us at a big disadvantage when trying to attract top arms. Development and trades are our best bet.
Overpay yes, but "significantly"? Would the pitcher the Tigers just signed have demanded $20 million more from the Twins vs. Detroit? I doubt it.

The Twins have almost zero guaranteed $ committed beyond 2023. They can afford two top-end starters and to lock up Buxton. Failure to do so is 100% on the front office.
 

GophersInIowa

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Overpay yes, but "significantly"? Would the pitcher the Tigers just signed have demanded $20 million more from the Twins vs. Detroit? I doubt it.

The Twins have almost zero guaranteed $ committed beyond 2023. They can afford two top-end starters and to lock up Buxton. Failure to do so is 100% on the front office.
I was talking more about clear cut #1 pitchers that usually have lots of options. Rodriguez is not in that category and probably doesn’t have as many options as a guy like Scherzer or maybe a Gausman.
 

howeda7

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I was talking more about clear cut #1 pitchers that usually have lots of options. Rodriguez is not in that category and probably doesn’t have as many options as a guy like Scherzer or maybe a Gausman.
True. For a top 10 in MLB type pitcher, the Twins would have to overpay significantly. Those guys want to go to winning teams first and foremost. But for someone like Stroman or even Robby Ray, they don't have overpay by that much.
 

Breakin' The Plane

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Robbie Ray just won the Cy Young. Pretty much guarantees the Twins won't pay his price. To quote Rachel Phelps from Major League: "Cross him off, then."
 

howeda7

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Robbie Ray just won the Cy Young. Pretty much guarantees the Twins won't pay his price. To quote Rachel Phelps from Major League: "Cross him off, then."
Probably. I have a feeling 2021 was a career year and it's best not to overpay for that anyway. He signed for $8 million last year. He'll probably get $20 on a 3-4 year deal now.
 


tmvander

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Probably. I have a feeling 2021 was a career year and it's best not to overpay for that anyway. He signed for $8 million last year. He'll probably get $20 on a 3-4 year deal now.
I'd still pay that for Robbie Ray. He's shown flashes his whole career. If he can stay healthy he may have just put it all together and be a stud for that 3-4 years.
 

Ope3

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The whole Buxton thing, I am torn. Just feels like whatever they do has a high chance of blowing up in their face.
 


Ope3

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Might as well roll the dice with a trade.

I have a hard time believing Buxton would bring anything of value in return, without knowing what is going to happen with regards to the Labor agreement. What if he's declared a Free Agent under the new terms?
 



TruthSeeker

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I have a hard time believing Buxton would bring anything of value in return, without knowing what is going to happen with regards to the Labor agreement. What if he's declared a Free Agent under the new terms?
The CBA is the problem. That's why he should have been shipped out 5 months ago
 



Gopher_In_NYC

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Probably. I have a feeling 2021 was a career year and it's best not to overpay for that anyway. He signed for $8 million last year. He'll probably get $20 on a 3-4 year deal now.
Per the MLB Network he'll get north of $100 M for five years - last year was an aberration and not what his prior success.
 
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Gopher_In_NYC

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Help on the way? Interesting and DEEP number of quality starters on the trading block due to payroll shedding/shredding.

I'll be super frustrated if they don't grab at least one of these guys - they can go get a couple of semi-washed out vets as well to fill out the roster - leaving a ton of cake to still BB and maybe a lower tiered legit FA pitcher as well.

I'm willing to part with the following -

Garver or Jeffers
Kepler
Rooker
Arraez
Donaldson
Larnach - only if we can't get it done with a combo of the above
No Polanco of BB - or what the heck's the point of the trading for the pitching then

What says you virtual GM??


If the Twins have any chance of contending in 2022, they need substantial help for a rotation that currently consists of Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan and three blank spaces.

Fortunately there are plenty of front-line starters available in this very talented, very deep free-agent class, led by Max Scherzer, Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Rodón, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Jon Gray, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, Steven Matz and Corey Kluber. Free-agent pitching is never cheap, and often risky, but the Twins have money to spend.

They could also look to rebuild the rotation via the trade market, where their excess veteran bats and a strong collection of prospects could be offered up for veteran starters. Even that path seems to be in the Twins’ favor this offseason, as several non-contenders have multiple quality starters and some contending teams with quality starters are reportedly looking to reduce payroll.

Below are 12 veteran, front-line starters the Twins could target in trades.


Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds

With the Reds in payroll-shedding mode, Luis Castillo is their biggest veteran trade asset as a 28-year-old front-line starter under team control through 2023. He’s slated to make around $7.5 million in 2022 via arbitration and will be due for a raise to $10 million or more in 2023 — bargain salaries for a pitcher who would command over $100 million on a long-term deal as a free agent.

His control comes and goes, but few starters have better raw stuff than Castillo, who pairs high-90s fastball/sinker velocity with an elite changeup and a swing-and-miss slider. Castillo annually ranks among MLB’s leaders in both strikeout rate and ground-ball rate, an ideal combination for any pitcher, and since 2019 he has a 3.61 ERA with 507 strikeouts in 448 innings.




Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins

Miami has enviable young pitching depth and is said to be shopping some of it for additional lineup help, specifically at the catcher position. That could make the Twins a fit with Mitch Garver or Ryan Jeffers to offer up as part of the package for 26-year-old Sandy Alcantara. His high-90s sinker is a ground-ball factory and he made big strides with control in 2021. Of course, Alcantara might be too appealing.

Alcantara posted a 3.19 ERA in 206 innings last season, striking out 202 and allowing just 21 homers. It’s obvious why the Twins would want him, but with three more years of team control and a modest $4.5 million salary projected via arbitration, even the perpetually rebuilding Marlins may want to build around Alcantara unless they’re blown away by an offer.

Frankie Montas, Oakland A’s​

The A’s, like Cincinnati, are a 2021 contender now in cost-cutting mode with multiple quality starters to shop. Frankie Montas is the most appealing after a breakout age-28 season in which he posted a 3.37 ERA with 207 strikeouts in 187 innings. Montas has two seasons of team control remaining via arbitration, with a raise to around $5 million set for 2022.

Montas can overpower opponents with high-90s velocity, but his best pitch is a high-80s splitter that was nearly unhittable in 2021 and his slider is also a solid offering. He’s a fly-ball pitcher and Montas ran into homer-fueled issues in the past, but the emergence of his splitter may have neutralized that. He allowed a grand total of one homer on the 678 splitters he threw last season.




Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks

Zac Gallen is 26 years old and not even arbitration eligible yet, so it’s not clear why Arizona would be motivated to move an impact arm under team control through 2025. But if losing 110 games last season and having no realistic shot of competing in 2022 causes the Diamondbacks to make an iffy decision, the Twins should absolutely be ready to take advantage.

Gallen has a 3.46 ERA with 317 strikeouts in 273 innings since being called up in mid-2019, holding opponents to a .221 batting average in 50 total starts. His mid-90s fastball is a very effective lead offering, and his changeup and curveball are both nice off-speed pitches. He definitely won’t come cheap even if Arizona decided to move him, but Gallen is potentially a rotation building block.

Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds​

Sonny Gray is another front-line starter Cincinnati might be looking to move with two years of team control left. He can’t compete with Castillo’s raw stuff and he’s three years older, but Gray has been every bit as good since 2019 with a 3.48 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. That matches his career 3.61 ERA across nine seasons, including lots of early success with Oakland.

Gray has a deep five-pitch mix that misses bats and induces grounders, and he’s been a playoff-caliber starter in seven of his nine seasons. However, he’s 32 and struggled after returning from a midseason rib-cage injury this past season, posting a 5.03 ERA in 14 second-half starts. Gray is owed $10 million in 2022 and his deal includes a $12 million team option for 2023, both of which are below-market salaries.

Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds​

Yet another front-line Reds starter possibly on the block with two years of team control ahead, Tyler Mahle is 27 and due for a raise to around $5.5 million via arbitration. Things didn’t click for the former top prospect until 2020, but since then Mahle has a 3.72 ERA with 270 strikeouts in 228 innings on the strength of a mid-90s fastball, an elite splitter and a bat-missing slider.

Mahle has less of an established track record than Castillo and especially Gray, but he’s also the youngest of the three and could be particularly appealing if the Twins thought they could trade for him and sign him to an extension before he adds any further to his resume. He’s not a big name (yet), but expect the Reds’ asking price to be substantial.




John Means, Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore’s rotation had an MLB-worst 5.67 ERA over the past three seasons, but John Means has been a rare Orioles starter to pitch like he belonged in the majors. Means, a strike-throwing lefty who made his first major-league start at age 26, now has a 3.78 ERA in 63 career starts and has pitched well in each of his three full seasons.

On one hand, the Orioles can hardly afford to lose one of their only good arms. On the other hand, Means is already 28 and the Orioles look like they’re going to be bad for a while longer. Baltimore has averaged 109 losses per 162 games since 2018, including 110 last season. Means is team controlled for three more seasons. How many of those will be spent on a non-competitive team?

Pablo López, Miami Marlins​

Pablo López has Alcantara-like upside as a 25-year-old with a mid-90s sinker and two good off-speed pitches, but the Marlins are likely much more willing to move him because of considerable injury question marks. He missed nearly the entire second half of the 2021 season with a shoulder strain, returning to make just one short start on the final day of the schedule.

Prior to that López looked like a front-line starter, posting a 3.26 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 31 starts since the beginning of 2020. López also dealt with shoulder problems in 2018 and 2019, so the Twins may be scared off by the injury risk. But if healthy López is a young power arm with enough big-league success to know the upside is there. He’s team controlled through 2024.




Sean Manaea, Oakland A’s​

Sean Manaea bounced back well from the 2018 shoulder surgery that cost him most of 2019, posting a 3.73 ERA with 269 strikeouts in 263 innings since rejoining the rotation. He’s never had high-end velocity, but the lefty’s average sinker was actually faster last season (92 mph) than it was before going under the knife (90 mph in 2018) and his changeup has always been a plus pitch.

Manaea is going into his final season before free agency, with a projected salary of $10 million via arbitration. He’s certainly worth that money after a season in which he had a 3.91 ERA with 194 strikeouts in 178 innings, but the A’s could view even that modest salary as a must-move and their trade asking price will be lower than similar pitchers with multiple years of team control.

Chris Bassitt, Oakland A’s​

Chris Bassitt, like Manaea, is going into his last pre-free agency season and due for a raise to about $9 million in arbitration that could render him a must-move in Oakland. He’s quietly been one of the AL’s best starters since returning from elbow surgery in 2018, logging 412 innings with a 3.23 ERA, including a 3.15 ERA and career-high 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 27 starts in 2021.

Bassitt made his first All-Star team at 32, but his career-year took an ugly turn when he was struck in the face by a line drive on Aug. 17 and was taken off the field on a stretcher, later undergoing surgery for facial fractures. Remarkably, he returned to the mound just five weeks later and threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in two late-season outings. Good pitcher, good story, good trade target.




Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies

Rotation-mates German Márquez and Antonio Senzatela got extensions from the Rockies, but Kyle Freeland is going year-to-year via arbitration and will be a free agent after 2023. He’s spent his entire 654-inning career in Colorado and his 4.44 ERA at Coors Field is the fourth-best ever for pitchers with at least 25 starts there. Freeland’s overall 4.20 career ERA is also better than it looks.

But how much better? That’s tough to say, because altitude has been shown to hinder the Rockies’ road performance as well, making it more complicated than simply trusting road splits. Freeland has a career 3.96 ERA on the road, which is plenty good, and there’s reason to think the lefty has upside beyond that even if his raw numbers never jump off the page. He’s due about $7 million in 2022.

Elieser Hernández, Miami Marlins​

Elieser Hernández is another young Marlins starter with injury question marks and enough upside to possibly overlook them. Limited to just 17 starts the past two seasons because of biceps, quadriceps and lat strains, Hernandez has a 3.84 ERA with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings during that time and the 26-year-old is under team control through 2024.

He lacks the high-end velocity of Alcantara and López, averaging just 91 mph on fastballs, but Hernández’s slider is a legit weapon and his changeup is useful versus left-handed hitters. Not every oft-injured young arm is worth gambling on, and Hernández has less upside — or at least less obvious upside — than his rotation-mates Alcantara or López, but the price tag should be lower as well.
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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So far, reports are they've offered 7 years/$80 million. That's pathetic. I have zero confidence they've made any "really good" offers and I won't believe them if they claim they did, because they've done nothing to deserve the benefit of the doubt on that. Just nut up and pay the man.

5 years/$110 million with incentives for plate appearances should be enough to get it done. Maybe a 6th/7th year with a buyout.
Drop it to $90 million ($18 million/year) and make the maximum bonus about $7/year to bring his max to $25 million.

Make the bonus $1 million for each 100 PAs. If he plays 140 games @ 5 PAs per game, he will get the maximum bonus.
 

howeda7

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The whole Buxton thing, I am torn. Just feels like whatever they do has a high chance of blowing up in their face.
5 years/$110 is not some huge crippling disaster if the worst-case happens. They have $0 committed to anyone past 2023 except Randy Dobnak. If ever there was a time to dust off the checkbook and spend a bit, this is it.
 

Gopher_In_NYC

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This from the article is insane -

Last season, Buxton missed 6 1/2 weeks with a hip strain. Three days after he returned, Buxton was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken finger that cost him another two months. With Buxton in the lineup, the Twins are 209-146 (.588 winning percentage) since 2017. Without him, they’re 164-189 (.465).

Buxton Update/Thoughts -


CARLSBAD, Calif. — Though many in the industry expect the Twins to trade Byron Buxton, team officials are engaged in a debate on whether to keep him for the 2022 season.

Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars. But the Twins have failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension with Buxton, their dynamic, yet oft-injured center fielder who is eligible for free agency after the 2022 season. And the chances of the team returning to contention in Buxton’s final year under club control appear slim without a single veteran starting pitcher returning to the club’s rotation.

The Twins’ front office spent part of last week’s general managers meetings listening to trade interest for Buxton, who hit a career-high 19 home runs in 2021 and produced 4.2 fWAR despite missing 101 games with injuries. Buxton, who turns 28 on Dec. 18, batted .306/.358/.647 and continues to be a difference-maker when healthy.

The Twins, then, are left with a variety of options.

They could trade Buxton for prospects in an attempt to expand their young core. They could improve on the seven-year, $80 million offer they made to Buxton last July, with the goal of finalizing an extension. They also could retain him for one more season, effectively deferring their decision.

“It’s not like something that has snuck up on us at this point,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We’ve long been thinking about a lot of players, and as they approach closer to free agency these things come into focus a little more on both sides, from a player’s perspective and a team perspective.

“Now, we’re working through understanding all sides of this ultimately. We’ll proceed accordingly. At this stage of the offseason, we’re still just navigating our strategy and planning and trying to understand what’s available to us and what the market looks like on all periods. As is always the case, this isn’t unique to Byron or otherwise, there are people on our team that are interesting to other clubs and we just always need to work through what does that look like, what does our team look like as we navigate it.”




This situation was complicated from the outset. Both sides have indicated a desire for Buxton to remain in Minnesota for the rest of his career. But sources said talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million. The team then spent the next week unsuccessfully trying to trade Buxton, who was on the injured list at the time.

Buxton, seemingly undaunted by the failed contract negotiations and subsequent trade rumors, produced an .872 OPS and nine homers over his final 34 games. He said in September he remained open to staying with the Twins and was not afraid to enter 2022 without a new contract.

“There’s no rush,” Buxton said. “As far as the contract stuff, I don’t really know too much about it. It’s more of keeping it going. Obviously, everybody knows the situation. Just got to keep being myself, keep being me and communicate.”

Before the Twins would move Buxton, they would want to make sure they are unable to reach an agreement with him on an extension. The parties continue to communicate, but have not made progress toward a deal, sources said.

Finding a middle ground will not be easy. Buxton’s representatives want him to be paid like a potential superstar. The Twins, meanwhile, want to protect against the possibility that Buxton will continue to miss a large number of games due to injuries. Their budgetary restrictions make it difficult for them to absorb bad contracts.

Buxton’s talent is undeniable. He has homered once every 12.2 plate appearances and has a .622 slugging percentage in 389 plate appearances over the past two seasons. But his difficulty avoiding the IL complicates matters. Over the past five seasons, he has only appeared in 355 of 708 games (50.1 percent). Aside from a career-high 140 games in 2017, injuries have prevented him from playing more than 92 games in a single season.

Last season, Buxton missed 6 1/2 weeks with a hip strain. Three days after he returned, Buxton was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken finger that cost him another two months. With Buxton in the lineup, the Twins are 209-146 (.588 winning percentage) since 2017. Without him, they’re 164-189 (.465).

The possibility of an extension, then, is risky for both sides.




If Buxton’s representatives accept a reduced contract accounting for his injury history, they would face the possibility of getting stuck with a deal significantly below market value. The Twins, on the other hand, fear paying Buxton a massive amount if he proves physically unable to play in a significant percentage of games. Then again, if the Twins trade Buxton, they could end up looking short-sighted if he stays healthy and becomes a superstar, much like David Ortiz did with the Red Sox after Minnesota released him in December 2002.

“Our primary goal would be to have Byron Buxton be a Minnesota Twin beyond his tenure that is currently allotted,” Twins general manager Thad Levine said. “Assessing his talent, this is what is so beautiful about baseball, you can talk about this guy in so many different lights relative to what he does on the field and performs on both sides of hitting and defensively. Also, for the people around him, they see what he does in the clubhouse and what he can contribute in the community. It’s a real significant player across the board. These are the types of players you do aspire to build around when building teams.”

Buxton also could be the center of a rebuilding plan, not that the Twins want to entertain such a notion. As the team sputtered to a 73-89 finish in 2021, Falvey said the club was not interested in a full-scale rebuild and wanted to become competitive again quickly.

When the Twins traded right-hander José Berríos for two highly regarded Blue Jays prospects at the deadline, however, it stoked fears among some fans that the team was taking a step back. Those fears were not unreasonable, considering that a franchise that long has struggled to develop pitching moved its best homegrown product in years rather than sign him to the type of extension agreement he reached with the Blue Jays on Tuesday — seven years, $131 million. The subsequent losses of Kenta Maeda to Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda to free agency have left the Twins in need of three starting pitchers to go along with Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober, who have combined for 25 career major-league starts.

Even if the Twins determine a Buxton trade is in their best long-term interests, they might need to placate a fan base mindful of the team’s 18-game postseason losing streak dating back to October 2004. Though Falvey is aware of the fans’ desire to keep Buxton, those close to the executive believe it would not prevent him from making a move that he viewed as best for the Twins.

“It definitely is a factor for us. I would never deny that. It’s important to reflect what the fans want,” Falvey said. “We just have to navigate it as best we can for what we think is the best overall Twins team now and in the future, ultimately.”

A decision looms. And none of the choices is easy.
 
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Gopher_In_NYC

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CAB ends at end of November- so looks like off-season will be on hold till they hammer out a deal.
 

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5 years/$110 is not some huge crippling disaster if the worst-case happens. They have $0 committed to anyone past 2023 except Randy Dobnak. If ever there was a time to dust off the checkbook and spend a bit, this is it.

It's way too much for a guy who averages 89 games per season and has a career .248 batting average and a .299 OBP at the major league level.
 

howeda7

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It's way too much for a guy who averages 89 games per season and has a career .248 batting average and a .299 OBP at the major league level.
Obviously you're taking a calculated risk that he will average far more games than that. It's not one chronic recurring injury that's kept him out like Donaldson's calf issues. If he's even 80% of the player he was last year and plays 120 or more games, you're getting a huge bargain.

Who else are they going to spend the $ on? We always hear outside FA's don't want to come to MN. The only player they have signed past 2023 is Randy freaking Dobnak and the only other current player that might make big $ before 2025 or so is Polanco.
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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Even the budget Rays can lock down their stars, yet it's too hard for Falvine to figure out....

Basically a 4-year free agent contract plus buying out all of his arbitration.
 

howeda7

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Basically a 4-year free agent contract plus buying out all of his arbitration.
Yes. The Twins could easily have done that type of contract with Berrios/Buxton. They only have when it was "team friendly" with Polanco and Kepler.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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Obviously you're taking a calculated risk that he will average far more games than that. It's not one chronic recurring injury that's kept him out like Donaldson's calf issues. If he's even 80% of the player he was last year and plays 120 or more games, you're getting a huge bargain.

Who else are they going to spend the $ on? We always hear outside FA's don't want to come to MN. The only player they have signed past 2023 is Randy freaking Dobnak and the only other current player that might make big $ before 2025 or so is Polanco.

They have to continue to develop from within. Then spend the money on those guys when they become worth it.

If Buxton could stay healthy for even 3/4 of a season, I would say spend the money. But he can't, nor is he a proven enough hitter for me to want to do that.
 

howeda7

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They have to continue to develop from within. Then spend the money on those guys when they become worth it.

If Buxton could stay healthy for even 3/4 of a season, I would say spend the money. But he can't, nor is he a proven enough hitter for me to want to do that.
If they feel the same way then they should have signed Berrios to an extension. Trading both of them and basically pocketing the $ while trotting out a rebuilding job with a $60 payroll is BS. It makes zero sense to pay Donaldson $23 million/year but say "no thanks" to Buxton at $15-20.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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If they feel the same way then they should have signed Berrios to an extension. Trading both of them and basically pocketing the $ while trotting out a rebuilding job with a $60 payroll is BS. It makes zero sense to pay Donaldson $23 million/year but say "no thanks" to Buxton at $15-20.
Donaldson is a healthier and more productive player than Buxton. When they signed him they weren't rebuilding.

They didn't want to give Berrios 7 years. That's the only reason his per year average salary looks good now. I'm sure the Twins would have given him 4-5 years at 19 million per, and that's about what he's worth. But he got 131 million from the Blue Jays. That's 26 million per season on a 5 year deal, which is way too much.
 

short ornery norwegian

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there is risk on both sides, as noted in the article above.

make no mistake - if the Twins re-sign Buxton, and he gets hurt again, the online commentators will be screaming that they "should never of signed him."

but, if they Trade Buxton, and he stays healthy, the same commentators will be screaming that "they should have paid him what he wanted."

of course, hindsight is always 20-20.

I suspect the Twins will wait to see what happens with the CBA, and maybe wait for some other signings to help set the value.

If I had to guess, I put the odds at 50-50 that Buxton is with the Twins on opening day. (of course, that includes the possibility he's on the DL....)
 

RememberMurray

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"With Buxton in the lineup, the Twins are 209-146 (.588 winning percentage) since 2017. Without him, they’re 164-189 (.465)."

Well, that's pretty definitive, isn't it? That's really all I need to know.

I also love this part:

"Their budgetary restrictions make it difficult for them to absorb bad contracts."

Ahhh, yes. their "budgetary restrictions". From Calvin Griffith to the Pohlads, it's always been all about "budgetary restrictions". Gee, weren't we told that the team needed a new ballpark in order to compete financially? I could have sworn...
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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"With Buxton in the lineup, the Twins are 209-146 (.588 winning percentage) since 2017. Without him, they’re 164-189 (.465)."

Well, that's pretty definitive, isn't it? That's really all I need to know.
Of course they're better with him, but over that timespan they've played 355 games with him and 353 games without him. That's the problem.
 

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1,299
Points
113
Of course they're better with him, but over that timespan they've played 355 games with him and 353 games without him. That's the problem.

Even when he came back late this past season, he was nowhere near the form he had in April. I'm not advocating letting him go, but there are certainly valid reasons to not going all in long term.
 




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