At 40-55, the Minnesota Twins are poised to be sellers at the MLB trade deadline. Outfielder Byron Buxton is a player that could be on the move. The Twins have reportedly opened extension talks with the outfielder to little avail and could subsequently move him (Buxton is a free agent after the 2022 MLB season).
Buxton is a tantalizing outfielder with the potential to be a perennial All-Star. He’s a superb center fielder, fast and has a smooth swing. In the 27 games he has appeared in this season, Buxton owns a .369 batting average and a 1.176 OPS with 10 home runs to his name. The problem? Buxton’s career has been riddled by injuries, with him appearing in over 100 games just once over his MLB career.
Any team acquiring the outfielder, who hasn’t appeared in a big-league game since June 21, is taking a calculated risk that Buxton will be healthy. If he stays on the field, Buxton can wreak havoc. Here are three teams that make sense for a Byron Buxton trade.
3. Atlanta Braves expand lineup versatility with Byron Buxton trade
It has been a bumpy and unfortunate season for the Braves, with individuals like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka suffering season-ending injuries and setbacks. Incredibly, Atlanta is just 4.5 games out of first place in the NL East. A trade for Byron Buxton helps them defend their division title.
When healthy, Buxton can be the Braves’ starting center fielder. He provides manager Brian Snitker with a vacuum and a respectable arm to command the outfield. All the while, he gives their offense a contact hitter with power. Joc Pederson was recently acquired from the Chicago Cubs.
But with Acuna (torn ACL), Marcell Ozuna (finger injury/domestic violence investigation) and Ender Inciarte (hamstring strain) all off the field, the Braves could use another outfielder for the rest of the 2021 season.
Moving forward, the Braves would have a bevy of defensive alignments they can go with. At full force, Acuna can play all three outfield positions, allowing Buxton to play center. The latter improves them from all aspects of the game.
What stops Atlanta from trading for the No. 2 selection in the 2012 MLB Draft? Franchise first baseman Freddie Freeman is a free agent after this season, and the organization may opt to stick to short-term deals and not give out extensions until that matter is settled.
2. Seattle Mariners build for the future by acquiring Byron Buxton
The Mariners are three games out of an AL Wild Card spot. They should be prudent buyers at the trade deadline. Byron Buxton is a compelling option for the rebuilding-now-playoff contending Mariners.
Manager Scott Servais’ outfield rotation has been a mess. Mitch Haniger is hitting for power and Jake Fraley has been efficient when healthy. All in all, though, this has been a shaky bunch. Shed Long Jr. is having a rough season. Taylor Trammell has struggled to get on base. Jarred Kelenic has been unable to stick in the big leagues. Knee issues have wrecked Kyle Lewis’ 2021 campaign.
Seattle sports one of the worst offenses in MLB, as they’re 22nd in runs (394) and no better than 28th in hits (676), batting average (.220) and OPS (.676). Buxton helps them in that regard. He gives their order new life and someone to set the table for veteran power sluggers like Haniger and Kyle Seager. This season, Byron Buxton can play center with Kyle Lewis potentially moving to one of the corner outfield positions next season.
Investing in a well-rounded young player is optimal for a team in the Mariners’ position, that being having a low payroll and an up-and-coming ball club. Why wouldn’t they trade for Buxton? Individuals like Trammell and Kelenic are former top prospects and the Mariners may feel that they’ll eventually turn a corner.
1. St. Louis Cardinals add new blood to their outfield with Byron Buxton
The Cardinals have wheeled and dealt for impact players like nobody’s business over the last three years. With the team trying to turn the 2021 season around (they’re 47-48), they might as well take a chance on a player like Byron Buxton.
Despite the likes of Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Tommy Edman and Paul DeJong present, the Cardinals’ offense has left much to be desired from an offensive standpoint; they’re in the bottom-third of MLB in runs (379), hits (720), home runs (103), walks (275), batting average (.231) and OPS (.683).
The outfield corps has been better of late but inconsistent on the whole outside of Tyler O’Neill. Byron Buxton becomes the immediate center fielder and perhaps leadoff hitter, too.
The Cardinals need to manufacture offense and that comes from getting people on base, creating opportunities for the big swingers to do damage. They can’t do a great deal of damage when no one is on base.
Buxton doesn’t guarantee the Cardinals right the ship on a monotonous season, nor does he present a surefire solution to their tedious 2021 outfield. That said, he gives them new blood, a player that adds much-needed offensive variety to a power-happy unit and improves them defensively.
The talent is present for the Cardinals to be a playoff team. Execution is lacking, though, meaning they have to add a spark to make a legitimate postseason push.