Twins followers obtained some optimistic information on the standing of Byron Buxton right this moment, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune stories that Buxton is totally recovered from the arthroscopic knee surgical procedure he underwent again in October. Neal provides that staff officers are happy with Buxton’s progress and that the aim for the 29-year-old is for him to return to baseball actions by the tip of 2023. It’s a promising replace, significantly in tandem with latest feedback from president of baseball operations Derek Falvey that indicated the membership hopes to return Buxton to heart subject for the 2024 season.
Buxton, 30 later this month, struggled to remain wholesome in 2023 even because the Twins moved him to the DH position on an on a regular basis foundation. Regardless of his usually elite heart subject protection, Buxton didn’t take the sphere in any respect this previous season, showing as a pinch hitter in 5 video games and because the membership’s DH in his different 80 appearances. The restricted time on his ft sadly didn’t assist Buxton keep productive on the plate, as he slashed simply .207/.294/.438 with a 98 wRC+ that clocked in slightly below league common.
Appreciable as Buxton’s struggles had been in 2023, nevertheless, it’s tough to overstate how transformative his the slugger’s presence will be when wholesome. Along with being one of many league’s most elite defensive outfielders, Buxton has proven the flexibility to supply game-changing offensive contributions as effectively. From 2020-22, he slashed a whopping .257/.317/.576 (144 wRC+) with 60 homers and 9.3 fWAR in 771 journeys to the plate. The rub there, after all, is that Buxton was solely to take the sphere for simply over a full season’s price of plate appearances throughout the shortened 2020 season and two full, 162-game campaigns.
Buxton’s substantial damage historical past led the Twins to amass heart fielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals final offseason as a backup plan to Buxton. That call proved to be a prudent one, as Taylor stepped in because the membership’s common heart fielder in Buxton’s stead and carried out admirably, pairing a powerful glove with 21 dwelling runs in 388 journeys to the plate. With Taylor having departed without cost company final month, the Star Tribune’s Bobby Nightengale means that heart subject is the “largest query mark” on the membership’s roster as issues stand, at the same time as Buxton seems set to aim to reclaim the common job this spring.
If Buxton had been to fall sufferer to the damage bug once more, the Twins would don’t have any different devoted heart fielder on their 40-man roster. That doesn’t imply the membership fully lacks inner options. Nightengale notes that former fifth-overall decide Austin Martin, who has 65 video games of expertise in heart on the minor league degree, figures to give attention to the place this spring, although he made simply 12 appearances on the place final 12 months and has but to make his massive league debut. When it comes to gamers with main league expertise, the membership’s choices in heart subject ought to Buxton be unable to deal with full-time duties are restricted to utility gamers Willi Castro and Nick Gordon, neither of whom has appeared on the place in additional than 45 video games in a season earlier than.
That might make heart subject a place of want for the Twins at the same time as they hope Buxton is ready to return to on a regular basis duties. The membership’s plan to chop payroll this offseason makes a pursuit of high heart subject free agent Cody Bellinger inconceivable to think about, although it’s at the least believable to think about the membership both re-signing Taylor or including an identical piece like Kevin Kiermaier or Harrison Bader, who may simply play the place regularly however wouldn’t essentially demand on a regular basis taking part in time. After all, it’s doable even that type of signing would cost-prohibitive with out a commerce of an veteran bat like Christian Vazquez, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler or Kyle Farmer. In that case, the membership may very well be relegated to lower-tier free brokers equivalent to Kevin Pillar or a commerce candidate like Trent Grisham or Dylan Carlson.
Nightengale additionally references the membership’s anticipated pursuits of assist in the beginning rotation and at first base this offseason, although the rotation feedback include an attention-grabbing change of tempo. Whereas previous stories have indicated the Twins are anticipated to give attention to including depth to the membership’s rotation, Nightengale means that including a “front-line starter” is a aim for the Twins this offseason, suggesting they might look to take action via the commerce market. Given the membership’s deep positional group and monetary incentive to deal from that group, it’s straightforward to see how a deal for a front-of-the-rotation arm may come collectively.
That being stated, Nightengale cautions that the Twins are removed from alone of their aim of buying and selling for a front-end rotation piece this offseason. Whereas every of Corbin Burnes, Dylan Stop, Shane Bieber, and Tyler Glasnow have seen their names floated on the rumor mill to this point this offseason much more groups have been floated as potential suitors. The Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, Reds, Padres, Mets, Purple Sox, and Cardinals are among the many golf equipment who’ve been linked to at the least one of many aforementioned quarter of accessible arms, and it’s unclear if the Twins can be prepared to outbid that crowded subject to interchange Sonny Grey on the high of their rotation alongside Pablo Lopez.