The Twins announced Saturday that center fielder Byron Buxton is being shut down for the rest of the season.
Minnesota could've made Buxton one of their September call-ups, but General Manager Thad Levine says they've decided to shut him down so he can recover from lingering wrist pain that has been bothering him since he sprained his wrist in July.
"The decision really for that is driven off of three mean factors," Levine said. "One, is a continued desire to put him in the best position to be healthy going into 2019. I think he's done a great job recently of fighting through his wrist injury. The reality is it's still lingering. We would ideally try to put him in the position such that in 2019, he's unencumbered from a health standpoint."
The other two factors, Levine said, have to do with not feeling the need to force at-bats on Buxton in games that are virtually meaningless because the Twins are not contending for a spot in the playoffs.
And while Levine says Buxton's service time in the major leagues wasn't a factor in the decision to shut him down, it's hard to ignore the fact that Buxton is just 13 games shy of making himself eligible for free agency in 2021. The fact that he won't play those 13 games this season means the Twins will control him through 2021, and he can't become a free agent until 2022.
"We wouldn't been doing our jobs if we weren't at least aware of service time impacts on decisions we make," said Levine, who noted that Buxton and his agent are "displeased" with the decision.
Levine also made it sound like the decision damaged the Twins' relationship with Buxton.
"From this day forward, I think we recognize a responsibility to make amends," Levine said. "And that we're going to need to invest in the relationship with Byron Buxton moving forward, because I think as much as we would like to believe that all the relationship building here to date will carry the day, we understand this is a blow to the player, a potential blow to the relationship and we're prepared to try and stay as consistent as we can and reinvest in that element of this because we realized this was information that was not appealing or certainly collaborative."
Buxton played in just 28 games with the Twins this season before migraines, a fractured toe and sprained wrist sent him spiraling in the wrong direction.