MINNEAPOLIS — Another season will officially come to an early conclusion for Byron Paxton, as the quarterback is set to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee at the end of the season to clean up a joint that has caused long-standing problems all year, chief baseball operations Derek Valvey announced Friday.
The twins were still finalizing details at the time of the announcement, but current expectations are that the surgery will take place on Tuesday. The recovery time is expected to be “a few weeks,” Valvey said, noting that the procedure would not affect Buxton’s readiness for spring training.
If the twins are still in a serious fight for a place in the playoff, things could be different, and the club may try to bring Buxton back onto the field for a possible boost in the post-season. But with the Twins 10 games returning from the Guardians’ leading team on Friday with a number three elimination, the club’s leadership worked in consultation with Buxton, his agents and doctors to move forward with the surgery.
“The more we talked about it with him trying to push him, after we dealt with the knee and thigh a little bit as well as he had, we felt like the best course of action here was not to try to push him back,” Valvey said. “Our schedule has run out here, and I think if we had days where we felt like there were matches being played differently, maybe we would have pushed him a little bit more or he would have wanted to push, quite frankly.”
Valvey said Buxton does not have any lacerations or severe injuries that would require surgical repair of his knee. Instead, the procedure will likely remove some of the inflammation, scar tissue, and laceration in the area that has occurred as a result of the stress it has placed on the joint throughout the season.
“I think half the people in this room probably have some of that going on in their knees and elbows and other joints, so that really needs to be kept in mind, to be clear,” Valvey said. “What usually happens is scar tissue and it creates more of that inflammation when you hit it, so for now, let’s remove some of that, and hopefully that relieve some of that tension in the future.”
Buxton is currently on the list with a strained right thigh, but it is believed that the hip problem is related to the knee that has been bothering him all season. Although it originally flared up during the April 15 game in Boston, the twins later noted Buxton had been dealing with knee issues since spring training.
The twins had to carefully monitor Buxton’s workload and pain tolerance throughout the season, giving him frequent vacation days and 35 designated batting games along with 57 he played in center field. Even with all the pain, Buxton was determined to avoid hitting the IL this year, and it lasted until August 23 before he was permanently sidelined due to his issues.
Meanwhile, the twins returned to the top spot in the MLS Central by September 4 while expressing hope that Buxton could join them before the end of the season. With the elimination of twins, this is now unnecessary.
Buxton will finish his season in 2022 with a slash of 0.224 / .306 / .526, his career high 28 times and 92 games, and his most since 2017 when he played 140. Because he stayed on the field throughout in the first half, Buxton was able to put together the stats to earn the All-Star nod for the first time in his career, and he seized the opportunity with an eventual home win from Dodgers Tony Gonsolin at the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium.
In Buxton’s first year after signing an incentive-packed, seven-year, $100 million contract to keep him in the Twin Cities for at least his 34-year season, he posted 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball reference, second in team only to Carlos Correa.