Buxton Extension Can’t Be End of Twins Offseason

Photo: Pioneer Press – Scott Takushi

On Sunday, the Minnesota Twins did what many thought was impossible when they signed Byron Buxton to a 7-year, $100 million contract extension. The Pohlad family promised more of these extensions when they opened Target Field a decade ago and they finally delivered this offseason.

But, there are more offseason promises left unfulfilled. Specifically, when Derek Falvey and Thad Levine promised a baseball team that would compete in 2022. Back then, most thought such bold proclamations were just lip service. But now that they signed Byron, everything else should be on the table too.

Why invest in Byron Buxton at all, if you aren’t going to put a winning team around him? If the Minnesota Twins front office isn’t going to supplement that signing then they should have just spent that money on better parking options downtown.

CBA Deadline

The Twins roster still has a bunch of holes to plug and time is quickly running out. By 7 PM CT on Tuesday night, MLB front offices must tender all arbitration-eligible players a qualifying contract or they will hit free agency. For Minnesota, that includes Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers, Caleb Thielbar, Danny Coulombe, Juan Minaya, Jharel Cotton, Mitch Garver and possibly Luis Arraez.

About 28 hours later (11:59 PM ET on Wednesday), the current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire, at which time MLB owners are expected to lockout their players given the two sides are so far away in current negotiations for a new CBA.

The Minnesota Twins need to have a better roster, specifically an improved pitching staff, before that lockout happens. Otherwise, there won’t be any options left when the lockout ends and teams are allowed to negotiate with free agents again. In fact, most high-end pitching options are already signed by other teams.

Free Agent Starting Pitchers

Just three of the top twelve free agent starting pitchers (via Sportsnaut.com) remain unsigned. And the list seems to get smaller by the hour. The Twins have recently been linked to Carlos Rodon (via KSTP Sports) and have supposedly liked Stroman for years.

  1. Max Scherzer – Signed three-year, $130 million contract w/ Mets
  2. Robbie Ray – Signed five-year, $115 million deal with Seattle Mariners
  3. Marcus StromanUNSIGNED
  4. Kevin Gausman – Signed 5-year, $110 million contract with Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Carlos RodónUNSIGNED
  6. Noah Syndergaard – Signed one-year, $21 million contract with Los Angeles Angels
  7. Eduardo Rodriguez – Signed five-year, $77 million contract with Detroit Tigers
  8. Clayton KershawUNSIGNED
  9. Anthony DeSclafani – Signed three-year, $36 million contract with Giants
  10. Steven Matz – Signed four-year, $44 million contract with Cardinals.
  11. Justin Verlander — Signed one-year, $25 million contract with Houston Astros
  12. Jon Gray — Signed four-year, $56 million contract with Texas Rangers

I understand that Jim Pohlad and his family are still reloading their savings account after the Byron Buxton signing. If the Twins don’t make a free agency move before the calendar turns to Thursday, they’ll eventually enter Spring Training with Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober as the highlights of their starting rotation.

Money to spend

While it was still surprising to see the Pohlad’s pull out their checkbook for Buxton, the check they wrote will not break the bank. The Twins should have about $100 million allocated to their 2022 player payroll. That’s AFTER they tender contracts to the arbitration eligible players listed earlier in this blog (via Spotrac.com).

So even after the Buxton signing, Falvine should have $30 million to spend this offseason. At least based off the $120 million per season they’ve spent recently. As seen above, good pitchers are going for $10+ million, which leaves space for the front office to work.

If the Minnesota Twins really are serious about competing in 2022 and not wasting a year of Buxton’s new contract, then they cannot allow that to happen. They need to turn up the heat on this offseason before it shuts down Wednesday at 11:59 PM ET.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan