Friday, December 30, 2016

Brian Dozier: Trade or No Trade?

*It's been an awful long time, friends. I will be posting more frequently from now on!*

Basically since the day the baseball season ended, the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers have been connected in trade rumors regarding Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. We all know Dozier is coming off a monster season in which he hit 42 home runs, and that his contract is a massive bargain ($15MM over the next two seasons) for his production.

The Dodgers are in dire need of a right handed power hitter, and despite spending more money than anyone, even the Dodgers have a payroll limit so a player with Dozier's contract and production is almost a perfect fit for them.

With the Twins unlikely to contend in the near future, trading the 31-year-old second baseman immediately after what is likely to be the best season of his career is a prudent decision by the Twins new front office. It's something I've been hoping to see the Twins do for years; plan ahead. If Terry Ryan and the old-school people he had in place were still around, there'd be little chance of a Dozier trade this off-season.

It's been reported that the Twins and Dodgers have basically agreed that 24-year-old starting pitcher Jose De Leon will be the headliner going back to Minnesota in any Dozier trade, but that the teams can't come to an agreement on the second, third and/or fourth players involved. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports Network reported that some league executives think the Dodgers are being "stingy" with their prospects.

Meanwhile, LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that the Twins have told interested parties to make their final offers as they'd like to make a final decision on a Dozier trade in the coming days. Neal also reported that the Dodgers are steadfast in only offering a 1-for-1 swap of De Leon for Dozier, which quite frankly is insulting. The Twins have correctly demanded at least one more highly regarded prospect for their team MVP.

Jose De Leon is coming off a marvelous season in AAA, to be sure. He's posted great minor league numbers for years now, and he likely would've gotten more than 4 major league starts last season if he was in another, less talented organization. He's a very, very good prospect who could potentially emerge as a very good starting pitcher in the future.

However, he's already 24-years-old, and he struggled in his 4 big league starts this past season. And while the youngster was able to pitch late into games as the season wore on, he was set on a strict pitch count for the first half of the season as he recovered from a shoulder issue. Most pitchers today will deal with some kind of arm injury during their career, but it's always a worry when the injuries occur before they reach the big leagues.

If the Dodgers refuse to improve their offer of simply Jose De Leon, I think it's likely that Dozier remains a member of the Twins into the 2017 season. A team like the Cardinals could certainly pluck Dozier away as well, but with plenty of infield options available the price of young talent is likely to be a bit too steep for the Cardinals taste.

A Dozier trade would make a lot of sense and could put the Twins in a great position for the 2018 season, but there are worse things than going into the season with your star second baseman who just hit 42 home runs.