La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Twins have agreed to terms with 2012 No. 2 overall pick Byron Buxton, pending a physical.
Neal’s colleague Joe Christensen was told by Buxton’s agent yesterday that the two sides were close to a deal. The 18-year-old outfielder arrived in Minneapolis today and met with the Twins at Target Field.
No word yet on the amount of Buxton’s bonus, but the slot recommendation for the No. 2 pick is $6.2 million. The Astros gave No. 1 pick Carlos Correa a $4.8 million bonus, well under the slot recommendation of $7.2 million, but that may or may not have an impact on Buxton.
Buxton was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in this year’s draft class by Baseball America and has the proverbial “five tools” that make talent evaluators salivate. The Georgia native is expected to begin his pro career with the Twins’ rookie league team in Fort Myers, Florida.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.