Should the Astros Trade for Buxton?
Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Some have said the Astros should trade for Buxton instead of the Mullins trade I wrote about earlier today. Let's use the same process to discuss a potential Buxton deal.
Astros fan, spurred by the disappointment of not being able to sign Starling Marte, are desperate to fill a relative weakness as shown in the Off-season Guide and the Verlander/ Marte and Trade plan articles. Buxton would be an ideal upgrade in centerfield. So all of these fans are right. Right?
Who is Byron Buxton?
Before I continue, WHO is Byron Buxton? Why would the Twins be willing to trade their star CF and probably their best player?
In short, because they know they won't be able to resign him after this season. Buxton has the 2022 season and then he is a free agent. I do not believe ANY team will trade for Buxton until the CBA is settled. Having Buxton for a full 162 game schedule is a significantly different value than having him only for a labor shortened partial season. The other issue with Buxton is that the ONLY time he has played more than 92 games in a season is when he was 23 in 2017. Even in the short season of 2020, Buxton missed more than a third of the games. Season after season, Buxton has had MAJOR injuries that have kept him of of the field. It does a team no good to have a star player that is never on the field.
Buxton had a break out partial year in 2021 in the 61 games he played. It was the best of Buxton mixed with the ever present challenges of Buxton, His age 27 slash line
2021- 0.306/ 0.358/ 0.647/ 1.005 in 254PA, 9SB, 23.9% strikeouts, 169 wRC+, 4.2 fWAR
His 169 wRC+ was second in the MLB only to Bryce Harper with players with greater than 250 PA. Buxton was a leading candidate for MVP on May 7th when he went to the injured list with a right hip strain. On June 19th, Buxton returned, and on June 22nd, Buxton broke his left hand. August 27th, Buxton returned and played the rest of the season. In all, since May 7th, Buxton played in 37 of the last 132 games.
Right Leg= 2021 Right Hip Strain Left Leg- 2018 LeftToe Fracture, 2017 Left Groin Strain
Right Arm and Hand- 2019 Right Wrist Contusion
Left Arm and Hand- 2021 Left Broken Hand, 2018 Left Wrist Strain, 2015. Left Thumb Strain
Upper Core- 2020 Left Shoulder Inflammation, 2019 Left Shoulder Subluxation (twice)
Head- 2019 Concussion, 2018 Migraines
I will ask Joshua the AT to review Buxton's recent shoulder issues and this injury history in general. It seems to me to be that this could be an almost 28-year old body prematurely breaking down.
Buxton's year in 2021 was also at an entirely different level than at any point in his career previously.
Even within 2021 it was a tale of two Buxton's
OD 4/1/21 to 5/6/21- 216 wRC+, 98 PA
8/27/21 to 10/3/21- 134 wRC+, 144 PA
Buxton had a FIVE WEEK stretch where he was potentially the best player in the MLB. He ended the season with a stretch that would have made him the eighth best CF in the MLB (almost exactly ties with Mullins and Marte oddly enough.) How much is THAT worth for ONE YEAR?
Even his last five week stretch of 2021 is above his career norms. Let's lay out some numbers for comparison.
2021 full season- 0.306/ 0.358/ 0.647/ 1.005 in 254PA, 9SB, 23.9% SO, 169 wRC+
2021 Last five weeks- 0.258/ 0.319/ 0.553/ 0.872 in 144PA, 4SB, 25.7% SO, 134wRC+ Career (2015-2021)- 0.248/ 0.299/ 0.461/ 0.761 in 1758PA, 71SB, 28.8% SO, 99wRC+ Wait, Buxton has been an AVERAGE hitter for his career? Let's put the last three seasons together and see what that says.
Last 3 years (2019-2021)- 0.277/ 0.321/ 0.575/ 0.896 in 684PA, 25SB, 24.3% SO, 135wRC+
Those numbers look like they are in the ballpark of the final 5 weeks of 2021. That feels more like who Buxton really is and his true talent level. This seems like a more reasonable expectation for Buxton going forward. What do the projection systems say? 2022 Steamer Proj- 0.268/ 0.317/ 0.515/ 0.832, 560PA, 15SB, 23.9% strikeouts, 123 wRC+, 4.3 fWAR That would be a good but not GREAT year. It would be 10% more plate appearances than ANY season Buxton has had. One thing I have not added that I should when considering Buxton's value- Buxton is a VERY GOOD to GREAT centerfielder. What will it take to trade for ONE YEAR (you hope) of Buxton?
Whenever I have thoughts like this I use this tool to calibrate to what sort of trade value it would take to make the trade I want. You may want to try this before thinking the Astros will trade for Buxton.
https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/trade-simulator/ I will come up with trades in this tool that the TOOL says would be acceptable Buxton's value in the tool is. 14.6
This is 22% of the value the tool had for Mullins
Astros players in this range and down Jeremy Pena 16.3 McCormick 8.9 Leon 8.5 Hunter Brown 8.1 Javier 7.5 Meyers 5.7 Joe Perez 4.3 Colin Barber 3.8
Jairo Solis 3.6
Forrest Whitley 2.9 Jordan Brewer 2.4
Peter Solomon 2.0
Do you get the sense yet what it will take to get ONE YEAR of Buxton in a trade? Buxton for Pena - Who plays SS?- No Mullins for McCormick AND Solis AND Brewer Mullins for McCormick AND Perez AND Solomon
The problem for me as you can probably tell by now is that this deal is for ONE YEAR of Buxton. One year for on average of SEVENTEEN YEARS of Control of top 30 prospects in the Astros system.
The other problem is I do not think the Twins agree with the valuation of Buxton. I know their fans don't. They believe one year of Buxton is worth WAY MORE than these deals would net the Twins.
So would I be willing to do one of these deals? I might do the third one but ClintTheScout's article on Solomon leads me to think I under value him. That is probably the most I would spend to have one year of Buxton.
I don't think this deal happens because I don't think the Twins would do my deals.
So when someone tells the Astros to go get Buxton, ask them which of these trades they want to make. Then reach out to a Twins fan and see what they say. :)
Let's talk more about a Buxton deal here in the Forums
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