Welcome back to the Friday Four, everyone’s favorite offseason column. Unfortunately, it’s starting to look like the offseason is going to last a bit longer than expected, which brings good and bad news. The bad news is, of course, no baseball. The good news is that I get to keep writing these columns, which may also be bad news depending on how you feel about my takes so far.
Buck’s Minnesota Love
Let’s start on a positive note. Earlier this week, Byron Buxton appeared on Craig Mish’s show Fantasy Sports today.
#ICYMI: Byron Buxton joined Craig Mish on FST today and talked the important lessons he learned as a child, which has made him successful today.#MLB #MNTwins pic.twitter.com/okOcUYFxFC— SportsGrid (@SportsGrid) February 2, 2022
They touched on a few topics in their conversation, but two in particular stood out to me. The first was his desire to remain in Minnesota. As early as July last year, news emerged that the Twins and Buxton were engaged in extension talks. When nothing initially concluded, the fear among Twins fans was that Buxton would be dealt at the deadline. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case as he went on to sign a seven-year $100 million extension right before the start of the lockout.
Buck told Mish that he always wanted to stay with Minnesota his whole career. The former top pick reiterated his love for Minnesota and the organization as a whole, and that the loyalty the Twins showed him throughout the negotiations, despite his injuries, was important for him and his family. For a small team like the Twins, developing this type of loyalty with your best players is critical. Minnesota will never be a free agent destination, so make sure your stars want to stay around long term.
Of course, the story of Byron Buxton cannot be told without mentioning injuries. Over the past three seasons, when the Twins centerfielder has been on the field, he has been one of the indisputably best players in baseball. The problem is that he has only played in 48% of the Twins’ possible games in that timeframe.
Mish asked Buxton directly if he has considered dialing it back to try to preserve his health, to which he responded as only he could. “It’s more about how I grew up . . . going about it the right way and going 100%.”
I love Byron Buxton more than any active baseball player. He makes the Twins exciting in ways other baseball fans can only dream of. But for the sake of my sanity, please Byron, take it a little easier on yourself. Let’s shoot for missing 100% of outfield walls in a season.
Manfred Speaks on Lockout
I am praying for the day when I’ll have good news for the “lockout update” portion of this column. Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet.
In Rob Manfred’s media session since the lockout began, the MLB commissioner gave some important updates to the status of the season. Let’s start with some good news.
“The status of spring training is no change right now,” Rob Manfred says.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 10, 2022
As of right this second, there is no planned change to the start of spring training. This may be a bit overly optimistic from the commissioner, but it at least reflects the league’s belief that a new deal can be struck in time. There’s nothing of substance to reflect that belief, but hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.
In addition, Manfred also announced that the league agreed on a universal DH. While the DH in the NL will bother some baseball traditionalists, as a Twins fan I will certainly be happy to not see our starters at the plate any longer.
Manfred didn’t offer much else of substance in regards to the labor negotiations. The two sides are expected to meet again on Saturday where the owners will make their first new proposal in several weeks.
As the threat of canceled games looms, I am hoping that the two sides will be more motivated to come to an accord, particularly with some more willingness to negotiate from the ownership side. The players have already made concessions in their demands, while MLB has not. Additionally, there doesn’t need to be a lockout at all. The 2022 season could be played in its entirety under the old CBA, but the owners have chosen to lock out the players. There is room in the conversation for some nuance with the owners but make no mistake. If games are canceled, that lies squarely on the shoulders of ownership.
Twins Make More Minor League Additions
While the major league team still can’t make any moves with the lockout in place, the minor league teams can make all the signings they’d like.
The Twins added three new infielders to their minor league mix. Tim Beckham, who I wrote about earlier this week, is the most notable of the group. However, they also added shortstop Kevin Merrell and utility man Daniel Robertson.
Merrell has spent his entire professional career in the minor league affiliates for Oakland and Kansas City. The former first-rounder had a prestigious college career at South Florida but has yet to pan out as a prospect, hitting just .259/.310/.347 in his minor league career. 2021 was even worse for Merrell as he barely scraped the Mendoza line, hitting just .200/.288/.300 in 54 games between Kansas City’s Double- and Triple-A teams. Merrell is a depth signing, but maybe he can show some of the potential that made him a first-round selection back in 2017.
Robertson, on the other hand, should have a legitimate shot to be on the roster at some point in 2022. He had a rough year at the plate last season, but has typically hit around league average with a career .683 OPS. He also brings some defensive versatility, having appeared at every infield position in 2021.
Neither signing is anything to write home about, but it’s never bad to have depth, especially in the infield.
Twinkie Town Highlight Spectacular
This may not be a link dump post, but I still wanted to highlight a few things posted on Twinkie Town recently that deserve some extra love. Our writers work hard to give you the best Twins content around, and I want to share some of the pieces that I have loved recently.
- John Foley (the writer, not the disgraced former Peloton CEO) broke down the front office’s strategy leading up to 2022 and why this season is their ultimate test.
- Brandon Brooks continued his series on former Twins on the HOF ballot. I demand justice for Joe Nathan.
- Zach Koenig wrote a retrospective on Rocco Baldelli’s three seasons as Twins manager.
- Kamie Roesler looked at the current state of the Twins roster and how much room we still have for maneuvering whenever this godforsaken lockout ends.
- Finally, our former blog overlord and totalitarian ruler TJ welcomed Rick Spielman to an exclusive club.
Be sure to show these articles proper respect by sending a personalized gift to each of the writers. Engraved coffee mugs are preferred, but comments and shares will do if that’s outside of your price range.