The Phillies are reportedly eyeing a Gold Glove Award-winning centerfielder.
With the trade deadline nearing, the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly would be “at” or “near” the front of the line if a former Gold Glove award winner becomes available. That player, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, is seven-year veteran centerfielder Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins.
Currently on the injured list, Buxton recently received a contract extension offer from the Twins “in excess” of $70 million. If Buxton rejects the offer, whether in the coming weeks or during the offseason, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that he will likely be traded.
Buxton, 27, has played his entire professional career in the Twins organization, having been drafted second overall in the 2012 draft out of his Baxley, Georgia-based high school.
Three years later, the right-handed hitter debuted and collected 10 extra-base hits across 46 games. Buxton had been just a .238 career hitter through more than 430 games and six seasons, but has appeared to finally start clicking offensively in 2021 — his seventh year in the big leagues.
Outside of his current (left-hand boxer’s fracture) and previous (hip) injured list stints this season, Buxton has slashed .369/.409/.767 with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, and 19 RBI across 27 games and 110 plate appearances.
In the outfield, Buxton has committed only one error playing center field this season — spanning 220 1/3 innings and 71 chances. He is just four years removed from earning 2017 Wilson Defensive Player, Wilson Overall Defensive Player, and American League Platinum Glove honors. That season, he had only five errors across 1,143 innings and 400 chances in center field, while also recording an impressive six outfield assists.
Buxton has had trouble staying healthy, playing just 28 games in 2018, 87 in 2019, 39 of the 60 games last season, and 27 so far in 2021. Yet, when he is on the field, it would be hard to identify a handful of better defensive outfielders in Major League Baseball than the veteran.
The Phillies have not had a Gold Glove outfielder since Shane Victorino in 2010. Having no real long-term solution at the centerfield position – Andrew McCutchen is a free agent after this season if the club doesn’t pick up his option – a trade for Buxton just might be the Phillies’ best solution and at the same time help them snap that skid.