AL Central Notes: Buxton, Delmonico, Baddoo

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Chatting with SportsGrid’s Craig Mish earlier this week, Byron Buxton spoke about his decision to re-sign a seven-year extension with the Twins rather than play out the 2022 season and enter the free-agent market next winter. Reports dating back to July have indicated that the Twins and Buxton both hoped to work something out, and the 28-year-old tells Mish that “loyalty was a big thing for my family and me” when it came to contract talks. Buxton expressed appreciation for the Twins sticking with him and wanting to build around him despite a litany of injuries. He added that since being selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, his goals have been to reach the Majors, play for a long time, and to spend his career with one team.

There’s no guarantee that last part will come to fruition, but in addition to a $100MM guarantee, Buxton’s contract came with a full no-trade clause. He can also boost his annual salary considerably with incentives tied to plate appearances and MVP voting. There’s a good bit of risk involved in the deal, given Buxton’s injury history, but as his .277/.321/.575 line and 42 home runs through his past 684 plate appearances show, Buxton is one of the game’s best in terms of raw talent. A hip flexor strain and then a broken hand sustained on a hit-by-pitch limited him to 254 plate appearances in 2021, but Buxton turned in a mammoth .306/.358/.647 slash with 19 home runs in that time.

More from the division…

  • Former White Sox outfielder Nicky Delmonico returned to the organization as a minor league hitting coach earlier this week. He told reporters that he hopes this will be just the first step in a lengthy career on the other side of the game (link via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). Delmonico, 29, said he would “love to manage” one day and has long felt that would be his calling in his post-playing days. Delmonico might’ve continued his playing career were it not for some recent injury troubles, but he revealed in that media session that he’d have required shoulder surgery and a lengthy rehab process to continue on the field (Twitter link via James Fegan of The Athletic). Fegan notes that Delmonico spent the 2021 instructional league with the White Sox’ club there, learning under the organization’s hitting coordinator, Andy Barkett.
  • Akil Baddoo is coming off one of the more successful showings by a Rule 5 draftee in recent years. Selected by the Tigers despite having never appeared above High-A during his time in the Twins system, the left-handed hitter made an immediate splash by hitting four home runs over his first eight MLB games. The sailing obviously didn’t remain quite so smooth, but Baddoo generally impressed over the course of the year. Not only did he stick on the active roster all year, he started more than half of Detroit’s games and posted slightly above-average offensive numbers (.259/.330/.436, 108 wRC+) across 461 plate appearances. Cody Stavenhagen of the Athletic looks back on Baddoo’s season as part of a wide-ranging feature on the 23-year-old outfielder. Baddoo discusses his personal background and ascent to the majors, his offseason routine, and some goals for the 2022 season — including improving against same-handed pitching and strengthening a throwing arm that he says had still felt residual effects from a May 2019 Tommy John surgery. Tigers fans, in particular, will want to give Stavenhagen’s piece a full read.

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