The Minnesota Twins are widely expected to be major sellers at this month's MLB trade deadline, but the club is reportedly interested in signing at least one key player to a long-term contract.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Twins are attempting to sign star outfielder Byron Buxton to an extension. Rosenthal reports, citing sources, that "the team's latest offer to Buxton is in excess of the $70 million the Yankees awarded centre fielder Aaron Hicks over a seven-year extension" signed in February of 2019.
Buxton, who is currently on the injured list with a fractured left hand, has a long history of injuries but can be the team's best player when healthy. He has been limited to just 110 plate appearances this season by the fractured hand and an earlier hip strain, but Buxton is hitting an impressive .369/.409/.767 with 10 home runs and five stolen bases. In the field, he has saved seven defensive runs in just 27 games, which ranks third among centre fielders. Last season, he finished 16th in AL MVP voting after hitting .254/.267/.577 with 13 home runs and 27 RBIs in just 39 games.
If the Twins and Buxton fail to reach a deal, Rosenthal reports, the team will likely be forced to trade him in the off-season. The 27-year-old has one more season of arbitration eligibility remaining and could become an unrestricted free agent after the 2022 season, where a contract similar to George Springer's six-year, $150 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays could be waiting for him. But, the former Gold Glove winner has been on the injured list 11 times over his seven-year career, according to Rosenthal, making a long-term deal risky for any team signing it.
The Twins enter the second half of the season with a 39-50 record, fourth-worst in the American League. As the July 30 trade deadline nears, the team is expected to shop players like slugger Nelson Cruz, shortstop Andrelton Simmons and right-hander Jose Berrios, among others.