Byron Buxton time in Minnesota, as Twins lose Aaron Hicks to hamstring injury

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UPDATE: It’s official. Buxton is on his way back to the Twins.

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As if getting swept in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium wasn’t bad enough, now the Twins have placed center fielder Aaron Hicks on the disabled list with a hamstring injury suffered during today’s game.

It’s a shame, because after struggling in both 2013 and 2014 the former top prospect has finally found his footing in the majors by hitting .272 with eight homers and a .738 OPS in 69 games.

No official announcement has been made yet, but every indication is that the Twins will call up stud prospect Byron Buxton from Triple-A to replace Hicks on the roster and in center field. It was Buxton’s thumb injury after just 11 games with the Twins in June that re-opened the door for Hicks to get another extended chance in Minnesota.

Buxton was demoted to Triple-A once he got healthy, but he’s gotten in a hit in all 13 games there and is batting over .400 for Rochester. It’s unfortunate that it may take a Hicks injury for Buxton to rejoin the Twins, but he absolutely deserves another chance to live up to the hype at age 21.

Two of 10 players accept $17.8 million qualifying offers

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First baseman José Abreu and starter Jake Odorizzi have accepted their $17.8 million qualifying offers from the White Sox and Twins, respectively, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. Reliever Will Smith signed a three-year contract with the Braves ahead of Thursday’s 5 PM ET deadline to accept or reject the qualifying offer.

The remaining seven players — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Josh Donaldson, and Marcell Ozuna — have rejected their qualifying offers, per Passan. They are officially free agents and will have draft pick compensation attached to them, a potential deterrent for some interested teams.

The QO is unlikely to materially affect the fates of Cole, Rendon, and Strasburg, but it could limit the markets for the other four players. Reliever Craig Kimbrel and starter Dallas Keuchel both had draft pick compensation attached to them after the 2018 season and didn’t end up signing until June. It seems unlikely that Wheeler, Bumgarner, Donaldson, and Ozuna would have to wait until June next year to sign but it may take a while for their markets to develop.