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Byron Buxton’s seven-year deal with Twins official: ‘Nowhere else we want to be’

The Twins drafted Buxton out of Appling County High School in Baxley, Ga., with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft and watched as the teenager from small-town Georgia with sky-high expectations on his shoulders matured into a husband and father of two who has begun to reach his potential on the field.

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Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton (25) celebrates after a run against the Royals in the sixth inning Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, at Target Field. Bruce Kluckhohn / USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Shortly after being installed as the top decision-makers in the Twins’ front office, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine made signing Byron Buxton to a long-term extension their central focus.

It was exactly 1,720 days ago — a number Levine knew off the top of his head after looking it up Wednesday morning — on March 17, 2017, when the current front office made its first extension offer to Buxton.

A few years of negotiations led the Twins and star center fielder to where they were on Wednesday at Target Field, when Buxton sat between Falvey and Levine as they officially announced the seven-year, $100-million deal that will keep the speedy 27-year-old in Minnesota through 2028. It’s just the second nine-figure contract the organization has ever given out.

“This is a special place to me, a special place to my family, and there’s nowhere else we want to be,” Buxton said. “This is where we made our home nine years ago — and we get to live for seven more years here. I can officially say I might be a Minnesotan.”

The Twins drafted Buxton out of Appling County High School in Baxley, Ga., with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft and watched as the teenager from small-town Georgia with sky-high expectations on his shoulders matured into a husband and father of two who has begun to reach his potential on the field.

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It certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing to this point — injuries often have gotten in the way, costing him hundreds of games over the course of his career. Last year, after being named the American League’s Player of the Month in April, Buxton suffered a hip sprain, then days later was hit by a pitch, fracturing his hand. He played in just 61 games in 2021, but dazzled both offensively and defensively when he was on the field, putting up a 4.5 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference.

Though injuries disrupted Buxton’s best season to date — he finished the year hitting .305 with a 1.005 OPS and 19 home runs — and the two sides were unable to come to an agreement in-season on an extension before July’s trade deadline, both sides remained adamant about wanting to get a deal done.

Falvey said it took “persistence” and creativity over the course of the years-long process. Buxton’s deal is structured with heavy incentives based both on health and performance.

The new contract came with a $1 million signing bonus. Buxton will earn $9 million in the upcoming season and $15 million a year in subsequent seasons. Should he place first in Most Valuable Player voting during any year of his contract, he will earn an additional $8 million. Second through 10th-place finishes in MVP voting also will net him additional bonuses. And Buxton will be able to earn an additional $2.5 million per season based on plate appearances.

While Buxton could have likely earned much more as a free agent after next season, signing an extension with the Twins now was a family decision, based on comfort and stability, he said.

With his wife, Lindsey, and young boys Brixton and Blaze looking on, Buxton talked about the comfort of settling down here, knowing the couple could put their sons through school in Minnesota without having to worry about moving. The deal comes with a full no-trade clause, which Buxton said was a “big deal” for him and his family.

“I love the fans. I love the city. I love the organization,” Buxton said. “They were the first ones that gave me a chance to become who I am today, so for me, there’s a lot of loyalty to this. That’s how I was raised, so just me being able to … put my name on that piece of paper was one of the best feelings you could possibly have as a player.”

At the end of what Levine quipped was a “longer than your normal negotiation,” 1,720 days later, the happy feelings extended far past just Buxton. Twins legends Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Paul Molitor were among those in attendance as the Twins and Buxton celebrated their ongoing partnership.

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“It was our central focus. It’s been our central focus for some time,” Levine said of extending Buxton. “He’s a memory maker. When fans come to see him play, he’s making memories night in and night out. … The future of everything we’re trying to do here is built around guys like Byron.”

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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