As the Philadelphia Phillies attempt to solve their short and long-term issues in center field, they reportedly are monitoring one of the league’s few needle movers at the position.
Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports says that the Phillies “would be at or near the front of the line if Byron Buxton became available.”
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported earlier in the day that the Minnesota Twins have offered Buxton a long-term contract “in excess of the $70 million the New York Yankees awarded center fielder Aaron Hicks over seven years.”
Rosenthal said that if said extension isn’t accepted, the Twins would likely pivot to trading Buxton, who can’t become a free agent until after the 2022 season. That could come in advance of the July 30 trade deadline or this offseason, per Rosenthal.
The Phillies would probably have interest either way, but particularly if they come out of the All-Star Break strong and believe that there’s a chance to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
Exactly what the asking price for Buxton would be is hard to tell. Obviously, the Twins value him enough to keep him, but he’s currently on the injured list after being hit in the left hand with a pitch that caused a fracture. The 27-year-old has been unreal when he’s played – slashing. .369/.409/.767 with a 2.7 fWAR – but injuries have limited him to just 27 games in 2021.
Assuming Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies are unwilling to part with 2020 first-round pick Mick Abel, it’s difficult to know if they’d be able to put together a compelling enough offer to convince the Twins to trade Buxton this summer, rather than waiting until the offseason.
If the Phillies were able to acquire Buxton and keep him healthy, the 27-year-old would solve a host of issues for the team. He would be a clear upgrade over any of the center field options the Phillies have internally, specifically in the field. For a team that’s struggled so much defensively in 2021, Buxton would be a welcome addition to the outfield, as he has 57 career defensive runs saved.
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