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Byron Buxton reportedly rejects contract extension from Twins, could a trade be next?

Byron Buxton
Minnesota Twins’ Byron Buxton homers in a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Will the Twins trade Byron Buxton before the MLB trade deadline on Friday? That became more of a possibility on Sunday when the center fielder rejected a contract extension from the team, according to Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes of  the Athletic.

Rosenthal reported this month that the Twins were trying to sign Buxton to a long-term extension and likely would look to deal him if he rejects it.

Buxton, who has battled numerous injuries throughout his big-league career and is currently sidelined because of a fractured left hand, has been approached in the past about doing what could be considered team-friendly deals with the Twins but has turned those down. Sources told Darren Wolfson of KSTP-TV and SKOR North that the offer Buxton rejected was over $70 million.

The Athletic reported that the initial offer to Buxton was for $73 million over seven years, but after Buxton’s side countered, the Twins increased the guarantee to $80 million.

The disappointing Twins already traded designated hitter Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays last week for two pitching prospects and are looking to move others. It might make more sense for the Twins to try to move Buxton this offseason than at the deadline. He is set to become a free agent after the 2022 season.

Buxton, the second pick in the 2012 MLB draft, got off to a fantastic start this season and is hitting .369/.409/.767 with 10 home runs and 19 RBIs. The speedy Buxton is also one of the best center fielders in the game today.

The issue is he has played in only 27 games. Buxton suffered a strained right hip in May that kept him out for 40 games. He then returned for three games last month before being hit on the hand by a pitch against the Reds on June 21. The Twins, who had been expected to contend for a third consecutive AL Central title, had a 42-57 record entering Sunday’s game against the Angels and were in last place in the division.

The Twins also have been talking to teams about Jose Berrios, the team’s top starting pitcher, and closer Taylor Rogers. Both also are set to become free agent after 2022.