The Twins have been playing without Byron Buxton in a full-time capacity since Aug. 1 thanks to a shoulder injury, and manager Rocco Baldelli indicated today on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that the organization is “bracing” for the news that Buxton won’t return in 2019 (Twitter link, with audio).
“Surgery is an option here,” said Baldelli after relaying that Buxton saw a specialist in California this week. “We’re basically sitting down and bracing for the realization that this could be his season ending right now. We basically are going to see what it looks like going forward. ’Buck’ is an enormous part of what we do here. The contributions he makes on the field are fantastic, obviously — he’s one of the best defenders in the world. That being said, the energy he brings and the lift that he brings to the team is also huge.”
Buxton indeed ranks as one of the premier defenders in the sport, regardless of position. His 10 Defensive Runs Saved rank sixth among Major League center fielders despite having played fewer innings than anyone ahead of him, and his overall Ultimate Zone Rating (+8.8) ranks 10th among all fielders at any position. He also places fourth in Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric (+12) despite fewer chances than the three players ahead of him: Victor Robles, Kevin Kiermaier and Lorenzo Cain. Of course, the reckless abandon with which Buxton plays the outfield both contributes to his penchant for rangy, highlight-reel plays and puts him at greater risk for injury; his current shoulder subluxation was sustained when crashing into the center field wall at Marlins Park more than a month ago.