Byron Buxton hit .417 in three games with Triple A Rochester during the weekend on a rehab assignment. Now that he's established he's healthy, the Twins on Monday officially optioned him to Rochester.
I wish they hadn't done that. I understand the reasoning behind the move, but I don't agree with it.
Start with this: A healthy Buxton plays. You don't have Buxton in the majors to sit on the bench. I agree fully with that.
Which means that to justify having Buxton in the majors, one of the current three regular outfielders needs to sit in any given game: Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks and Torii Hunter. (One could DH one of them, but then you get into the Miguel Sano-Joe Mauer-Trevor Plouffe trio splitting first base, third base and designated hitter.) Presumably the Twins brain trust is loathe to tamper with the outfield setup.
There is also the service time factor, but that is counterbalanced by the fact that the Twins have now burned the first of Buxton's three option years. Ideally they'll never use all three option seasons, but the first is now gone. Buxton's call-up came late enough that service time shouldn't be a genuine factor anyway.
No, the real reason they shipped Buxton back to the minors is that Rosario and Hicks also need to play to develop, and they have committed too much (financially and emotionally) to the return of Hunter. This is why I disliked the Hunter signing last winter. Sooner or later, he was going to get in the way.
It took into August for that to happen, which is later than I expected, but it's official now. Today, he's in the way.
It's bad enough to let a 40-year-old who is hitting at a league average level block a prime prospect. But I fear that the Twins will double down on that bet and bring Hunter back for 2016.