Through no doing of their own, the Philadelphia Phillies may have moved slightly closer Sunday toward pursuing a premium center fielder who has become a frequent headline in trade rumors as of late.
Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that the Minnesota Twins and Byron Buxton remain unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension, with the center fielder countering an incentive-laden seven-year, $73 million deal before the Twins upped it to $80 million, still not near what Buxton’s camp seeks.
With the trade deadline just five days away and the Twins sitting in last place in the American League Central, it’s possible that in the absence of an extension, the club could pivot and deal Buxton. However, with the oft-injured center fielder currently on the injured list, this time with a fractured left hand, it’s unlikely that he’ll be dealt before the offseason. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported — once on July 16 and again on Sunday — that the Twins will listen to offers before the deadline, however, and that the Phillies are among the teams most interested.
But even if the Phillies decide not to pay the hefty price likely associated with Buxton now (the team’s recent 2-4 stretch may not have convinced Dave Dombrowski to go all-in, despite his recent comments that the front office would be aggressive), an offseason trade remains a possibility. Buxton is under team control through 2022, and though Rosenthal and Hayes noted that the Twins “intend to compete” next season, they may be open to dealing the center fielder whose value doesn’t come risk-free.
With the Phillies’ long-term future at center field murky — especially considering Odúbel Herrera’s recent struggles — Buxton’s upside should appeal to the Phillies both now and in the offseason, if he remains unextended. It appears that he and the Twins are still far apart on a deal, making a potential July or winter swap that much more realistic.
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