Byron Buxton’s bust-out season has brought tears to the eyes of Minnesota Twins fans everywhere. We were promised a lot of things while Buck was admonishing minor league pitching but it took forever to see those promises actually bear fruit in the big leagues. How long did it take, you ask? Well, Buxton’s free agent eligibility is already fast-approaching.
In fact, Byron is only contracted to be a Twin for the rest of 2021 and 2022 seasons, through the MLB arbitration policy. After that, he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent before the 2023 season. Falvine’s been trying to get him under a manageable long-term deal for years but the Baxley, GA native and his representatives know better.
If Buxton can stay major injury free for the next 1.5 seasons, teams from New York and California will be waiting to offer the type of money only the BEST free agents see. We’re talking earth-shattering numbers because Buck is a lineup-changing player, especially when he’s on fire at the plate.
We just saw Byron Buxton have the greatest month in the history of the Minnesota Twins.#MNTwins top OPS in a month:— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) May 1, 2021
1.363 — Byron Buxton, April 2021
1.338 — Joe Mauer, May 2009
1.313 — Rod Carew, June 1977
(Mauer and Carew both won MVP in those years.)https://t.co/jqMhCTTkay
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) April 29, 2021
Show me the money, honey.
For Byron Buxton, taking a big money contract isn’t about escaping Minnesota or the Twins organization. The past hasn’t been perfect between the two sides but Buck is a humble guy who’d be willing to forget former relationship struggles. It’s about finances. The best major league players make over $35+ million per year and Buxton isn’t taking a massive pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Why would he?
Remember how mad everyone was about Mauer’s $23 million per season… It’s difficult to see a world where the Twins front office forks over anything competitive for Buck, should negotiations with other teams reach the $35 million range.
Here are the top-paid players in the MLB (via spotrac.com) as of 5/4/2021.
Sad but true reality
If Byron Buxton’s agent can’t get him more money than what a washed up Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera got with St. Louis and Detroit… then he should be fired. That won’t be the case, however. The Yankees, Dodgers and Mets will all come calling with contracts nearing $40 million and the Twins will be likely leveraged out of negotiations.
So Byron Buxton can tell us how great Minnesota is right now, when life-changing money isn’t waiting for him elsewhere, but when push comes to shove during the 2022-23 offseason, he’s going to follow the money like any sane human would.
“I would love an extension,” Buxton said. “Obviously, I’ve been blessed to stay with this one team in my career. So to be able to go out there and put on this uniform each and every day, that’s something that many guys can’t do. I want to be one of those guys that was there with that one team. This place just means a lot.”Byron Buxton via The Athletic
Is 2021 Buxton’s Last in Minnesota?
It’s very unlikely that Byron Buxton’s time in a Twins uniform stretches into 2023 and, honestly, 2022 is highly questionable as well, even if his current arbitration rights say otherwise.
If (more like when) Falvine decides Buck is going to be too expensive to sign long-term, they’ll look to trade him and the best time to do that will be this coming offseason. That’s when he will be at his max value and when the Twins will have the most suitors bidding up his price.
If they wait until the trade deadline in 2022, Byron will lose half of his value as a post all-star game “rental”. The third, and least likely option if a Buxton trade is inevitable, is to hold onto Buck until his contract is up. That would mean one more run at a World Series in 2022 before losing him for nothing after the season.
So take in Byron Buxton while you can, Minnesota Twins fans, our time is nearly up.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan