Twins star Byron Buxton is set to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee next week, reports Dan Hayes of The Athletic. It’s a cleanup procedure that is not expected to affect his availability for next spring training, but it’ll officially close the book on his 2022 season.
Buxton has spent the last month on the injured list mending a right hip strain. He’s battled soreness in his right knee off and on for much of the season. Buxton generally played through the discomfort, although the Twins did intersperse rest days in an effort to keep him off the IL. That sufficed until Buxton suffered the hip injury that knocked him out of action in late August.
The Twins had held out hope Buxton would be able to make a late-season return to aid their efforts at claiming what had been a tightly contested AL Central. The club instead has mustered a woeful 6-15 record this month, including losing four of five games to the Guardians last weekend. That killed any playoff chances and has knocked them four games under .500. The Guardians, meanwhile, swept the White Sox this week and can clinch the division as soon as this weekend.
With official elimination from postseason contention on the horizon, the Twins have elected to shut Buxton down and turn their attention to next season. It’s obviously not the end to the year the team or Buxton had envisioned, and he was just one of a number of players sidelined down the stretch. Minnesota has also been without Tyler Mahle, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, among others. The injury-decimated roster stumbled, while the Guardians have gone 15-7 this month to seize control of the division and all but officially book a postseason trip.
Buxton concludes his season with 92 games played and 382 plate appearances. It’s the second-highest workload of his MLB career, trailing only a 2017 campaign in which he played 140 games and hit 511 times. Buxton barely played in 2018, and he’s been limited to a hair more than half the team’s games in the past four years.
The recurring injury troubles are all the more frustrating considering Buxton has been one of the sport’s most electrifying players when he's able to take the field. He’s a top-tier defensive center fielder, and he’s been a well above-average offensive player since the start of the 2018 campaign. That includes this season, when the former second overall pick connected on 28 home runs and posted an overall .224/.306/.526 slash line. Last November, Buxton and the Twins agreed to an incentive-laden contract extension that guaranteed him $100M and came with massive possible bonuses depending on his plate appearance tallies and MVP finishes over the next six seasons.