5 controllable SF Giants trade targets: 2. Byron Buxton
The Minnesota Twins could become one of the most intriguing swing teams at the deadline. While many expected the reigning AL Central champs to once again compete for a playoff spot, the Twins have fallen well behind in the standings, currently tied with the Detroit Tigers for last place in the division at 24-35. Assuming Minnesota does not make a surge up the standings in the coming weeks, they could put some of the most talented players in the league on the trade block.
Plenty of teams around the league will be keeping tabs on center fielder Byron Buxton. Once considered the top prospect in the minor leagues, Buxton’s career has been overshadowed by injuries and high expectations. However, after performing like a glove-first centerfielder early in his career, the former second overall pick has combined his elite outfield defense with legitimate power.
Injuries and the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season have limited Buxton’s opportunities over the past few years, but he has received 528 plate appearances from 2019-2021. Over that period, he is hitting .280/.319/.578 with 43 doubles and 32 home runs. The Giants have received improved contributions from center fielder Steven Duggar. Still, the acquisition of a player like Buxton would upgrade their lineup and could enable Kapler to finish games with some undeniably elite defensive sets across the outfield.
Buxton is currently on the injured list with a hip strain, but he is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. Teams like the Giants should have plenty of time to evaluate his health before making a move at the deadline. Plus, with another year of arbitration before Buxton becomes eligible for free agency, any acquiring team could slot him into their lineup through 2022.
There are some obvious risks with a Buxton trade. After the last deal between the Giants and Twins went so poorly for Minnesota, the Twins front office might request an overpay from Zaidi to pull the trigger. Buxton has never walked at a league-average rate and has a long injury history. Both of those things could quell the Giants interest, but Zaidi is also known for coveting tools. There are few players in MLB with as tantalizing a set of tools as Buxton.