MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Twins and center fielder Byron Buxton agreed to a seven-year, $100 million contract Sunday, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the contract was not yet finalized and pending a physical exam.
Buxton posted an aerial picture of Target Field on his Instagram account with a heart emoji for a caption. The fleet-footed, big-swinging Buxton was only under team control for one more season, raising the possibility of a trade to stem the blow of losing him as a free agent.
Despite some snags along the way in the negotiations, which were complicated by Buxton's injury history that has significantly limited his availability to the Twins, the 27-year-old never wanted to leave the organization he joined straight out of high school in rural Georgia as the second overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Buxton has played more than 92 games only once in his seven major league seasons. That was in 2017, when he played in 140 games and won a Gold Glove award.
The glimpses of his game-changing, worth-the-admission skills have grown broader over the last three years as he blossomed with the bat to match his long-superior work with the glove.
Last year, Buxton broke out at the plate in a big way with 23 doubles, 19 home runs and a .306 average in just 235 at-bats. He had a .647 slugging percentage that would have led the majors if he had a qualifying amount of plate appearances.
Those bursts of dominance just kept getting interrupted, though, often due to bad luck. Buxton suffered a right hip strain in May. Then in mid-June, in just his third game after returning from the first injury, Buxton was hit by a pitch on the hand and broke his left pinky finger. He didn't return to major league action again until late August.
That was his 11th time on the injured list since his debut with the Twins in 2015 and the 15th time in 10 seasons as a pro.
Some of Buxton's past shoulder troubles stemmed from an all-out style of diving for balls and crashing against walls that the Twins have tried to curtail, but the broken finger — much like the concussion, wrist sprains and broken toe that came before — could hardly have been prevented.
“He is so tough, and he’s willing to literally play with just about anything. He would have to not be able to walk for him to come out and say, ‘I can’t play.’ The words never come out of his mouth. You would have to literally remove him from the field to get him off the field. That’s just who he is as a guy and as a competitor,” manager Rocco Baldelli said last summer.
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