Byron Buxton’s season has officially come to an end.
The center fielder, who was placed on the injured list on Aug. 23 with a hip strain, will undergo arthroscopic surgery next week to clean up his right knee, which was a persistent problem throughout the course of the season, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey announced on Friday.
The Twins had hoped to get Buxton back in September and had their playoff hopes still been alive, Falvey acknowledged that Buxton would have wanted to push through the pain to get back on the field. But with the Twins out of contention, the club made the decision in consultation with Buxton, his agent and their doctors to shut their star outfielder down.
“The more we talked about it with him, trying to push through it, with having dealt with the knee and the hip a little bit that he has had as well, we felt like the best course here was to not try to rush him back,” Falvey said.
Falvey said Buxton would only be down for a few weeks after surgery before he can start returning to activity. The surgery is not considered major, and the Twins expect Buxton to be good to go by spring training. The hip strain, Falvey said, will resolve with rest and has gotten to the point where it is “pretty close” to where it needs to be.
Buxton dealt with knee pain, which the Twins have called severe tendinitis, throughout the course of an all-star year, the first after receiving a seven-year, $100-million contract extension. It will end at 92 games, tied for the second-most games he has played in a season. In those games, he hit .224 with a .833 OPS and 135 OPS+ (100 is league average). He also hit a career-high 28 home runs.
Buxton managed the issue with treatment and rest days, as well as a number of games during which he served as the team’s designated hitter to help lessen the load on his knee.
“We tried to manage through it at different junctures … and ultimately, it just got worse over time,” Falvey said. “It’s really about repetition than it is about some acute moment. Even though there were acute moments along the way where it looked like it was more problematic, it was just kind of him dealing with that soreness persistently through the season.”
During the all-star break, Buxton received a platelet-rich plasma injection, and as the season progressed, the Twins started having discussions about whether or not a postseason procedure would make sense for Buxton.
Ultimately, Falvey said the reason the Twins opted for the surgery now was to give Buxton “as much runway as possible … to have a true, clean offseason.” Falvey said they would also be digging into what kind of measures they can take beyond rest and recovery to put Buxton in a position to be as healthy as possible moving forward.
“My hope is that we aren’t having to worry about this as consistently as we had this year certainly, and we’ll know more about that through the course of the offseason and through his rehab,” Falvey said.