Byron Buxton, Twins reach seven-year, $100 million deal
The center fielder played only 61 games last because of hip and hand injuries but hit .306 with a 1.005 OPS.
ST. PAUL -- After watching a healthy Byron Buxton hit a pair of home runs and double against the Detroit Tigers near the end of last season, Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli lamented the fact that there was little time left in the season to watch the centerfielder play.
“I bet he’s wishing there was more baseball to be played this year,” Baldelli said. “That’s what I bet he’s thinking. For all of us who are watching him play, we’re thinking the same thing.”
Baldelli will have plenty more time to watch Buxton play in a Twins uniform after the second overall pick in the 2012 draft agreed to a long-term contract extension that will keep him in Minnesota for seven more years.
Buxton’s deal is worth $100 million over seven years, sources said, and comes with a full no-trade clause that was critical to getting the deal done. It’s also heavy on incentives, tied both to his health and his performance. The deal is expected to be made official following a physical early this week.
If Buxton, 27, is named the American League Most Valuable Player during the course of his contract, he will earn an $8 million bonus. That number would decrease by a million for lower placement —$7 million for a second-place finish, $6 million for third and so on. A sixth-to-10th place finish would earn him a $3 million bonus.
Buxton can also make up to $2.5 million per year in plate appearance bonuses, netting $500,000 apiece after he hits five different thresholds (502, 533, 567, 600, 625 plate appearances). Buxton has played in 100 games only once in his career — 2017 — which was the only time he reached 500 plate appearances.
Buxton spent most of the 2021 season injured, but when he was healthy, he hit .306 with a 1.005 OPS. He played in just 61 games, first dealing with a hip strain and then a boxer’s fracture in his left hand, but put up a 4.6 Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference nonetheless.
The Twins tried to extend Buxton during the middle of the season ahead of the trade deadline, but the two sides were unable to come to an agreement at that point. Still, Buxton continuously reiterated his desire to stay in Minnesota with the team that drafted him second overall in 2012, and the Twins’ front office struck a similar tone.
In early October at the very end of the regular season, Buxton said there was “no rush,” to sign an extension and that he wasn’t focused on that, but he would “keep the door open.”
Around the same time, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said he would anticipate having further conversations with Buxton and his agents, both around his 2022 contract and the potential for an extension.
Buxton will receive a $1 million signing bonus as part of the deal, and will be paid $9 million in 2022. Every year after, his base salary will be $15 million. The $100 million the Twins guaranteed to Buxton represents the second-biggest contract in franchise history behind Joe Mauer, who received an 8-year, $184 million extension from the Twins in 2010.
The deal marks the first significant move of the Twins’ offseason. They are also on the hunt for pitching, and will need to address their shortstop situation this winter. In anticipation of a potential work stoppage — the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire at 10:59 p.m. on Dec. 1 — a flurry of activity is expected within the next couple of days.
But no matter what else the Twins do this offseason, they’ve already accomplished one of their main objectives.
Shortly after the news broke, Buxton, often referred to by his nickname “Buck,” posted a picture to his personal Instagram account, displaying an overhead image of Target Field with a pair of antlers mowed into the center field grass. The comment was simply a red heart.