Update, 5:47 PM ET: The Twins’ Dustin Morse reports that no fracture was found in Buxton’s ribs after undergoing multiple tests on Saturday. It appears that he was just playing with intense rib pain following the collision at the wall, and is now facing a much shorter recovery period as he looks forward to a fairly normal offseason.
Twins’ outfielder Byron Buxton left it all on the field during the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, grinding out a run with an RBI force out and slamming into the center field wall to corral a would-be extra-base hit from Todd Frazier. It’s the latter play that got him into trouble, though he played through three more innings before the Twins yanked him in the bottom of the fifth with upper back tightness. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press corrected that diagnosis on Saturday, reporting that Buxton had instead suffered a cracked rib on the catch.
While the club has yet to address Buxton’s injury, he’s expected to make a full recovery well in advance of spring training. He missed 18 days with a bone contusion in his left hand and a left groin strain earlier in the year, but has been largely healthy for his third campaign with the Twins and finished the regular season batting .253/.314/.413 with 16 home runs and a career-best 3.5 fWAR in 511 PA.
As for the center field wall itself, it doesn’t seem like the Twins are inclined to spruce it up with extra padding over the offseason. Per Berardino, the club shelled out over $100,000 back in 2014 when Aaron Hicks and Sam Fuld sustained concussions after similar collisions at the wall.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.