Brian Dozier Rumors
ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with Twins first baseman Joe Mauer about the transition from catching everyday to becoming a regular first baseman. Stark also spoke with several instructors around Twins camp, including Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and three-time All-Star Terry Steinbach, about the changes facing Mauer and what can be expected of him going forward. Stark puts Mauer's transition into some surprising historical context, noting that Joe Torre is the only player in Major League history to log 300+ games at another position after catching his 900th game. Mauer has some experience at first, having started 54 games there over the past few seasons, but admits that those games aren't the same: "You know, the last few seasons, when I’d get out there, it was kind of a day off from catching, and it was kind of like, go out there and do your best. But now, it’s your job. So you’d better do it right."
Here are some more Twins links for your Thursday afternoon...
- Agent Damon Lapa, who represents second baseman Brian Dozier and right-hander Kevin Correia, is expected to be in Twins camp this weekend and will have informal extension discussions with assistant GM Rob Antony, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In a second tweet, Berardino quotes Dozier, who broke out in 2013 with a 3.8 rWAR/2.8 fWAR season, as saying: "The Twins have done it before. Those can benefit both sides. We're still open to the idea."
- While Spring Training has been kind to Chris Parmelee in the past, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger notes that this time around is quite a bit different for the former first-round pick. Parmelee is out of options and knows that with Mauer penciled in as the everyday first baseman and the corner outfield spots likely full, his role on the club could be diminished. Parmelee was one of the players that Tim Dierkes and I examined in today's post on AL Central players that are out of options.
- While much was made of the Twins' pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter, Antony tells Berardino that A.J. Pierzynski was "no doubt" the team's No. 1 catching target this offseason. Pierzynski himself said back in December that the Twins made him a two-year offer. Antony said he wouldn't rule out pursuing Pierzynski in the future and has no hard feelings that he didn't take Minnesota's recent offer: "I understand; he got a chance to join the world champs. A.J. is a competitor. I don't think it was an easy decision. He told a lot of people that: 'God, I would have loved to come back to Minnesota. This was a tough decision to make.'"
Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker provides an interesting breakdown of the payrolls of Japanese clubs. The Yomiuri Giants lead the way with a USD-equivalent tab of about $45.45MM, which includes all players on the club's 70-man roster. Just 91 players league-wide make the equivalent of over $1MM, says Newman, with powerful catcher Shinnosuke Abe leading the way with a $6MM annual draw. Among foreign players, Andruw Jones of Rakuten has the highest salary at $3.8MM. Here are some more notes from the evening:
- Free agent outfielder Derrick Robinson underwent shoulder surgery today and is expected to miss most (if not all) of the coming season, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 26-year-old saw his first taste of MLB action last year, putting up a .255/.322/.323 line in 216 plate appearances for the Reds.
- Chone Figgins had to go back to square one to earn an opportunity with the Dodgers, writes Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times. The 36-year-old said that his showcase was "like a high school workout," except that he wrapped it up by telling the attending scouts to "tell your bosses you have a player who played in the big leagues and can still play."
- Twins middle infielder Brian Dozier says he would be interested in talking extension, if approached, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Nothing yet, but I'd be dumb not to even listen," said Dozier. "It's up to those guys. We'd be open to anything." Dozier had a breakout year in 2013, putting up a .244/.312/.414 line in 623 plate appearances and performing well enough defensively and on the basepaths to register 3.8 rWAR and 3.9 fWAR. Dozier hit 18 long balls in his first full-time year, despite having never reached double-digits at any professional level. The 26-year-old is set to reach arbitration eligibility in 2016.
- Though a new deal for a player like Dozier would certainly be a surprise at this point in his career, his defensive flexibility makes him a reasonable risk since he will remain worthy of a roster spot even if he loses a starting role. (Dozier played 83 games at shortstop in 2012.) And (as MLBTR's Steve Adams noted to me), Dozier's early propensity for counting stats could provide some impetus for a deal, since he may draw a relatively sizeable arbitration salary when he qualifies. Indeed, as Braves senior advisor John Hart recently noted, less-prominent players could increasingly be targeted by teams looking for new ways to derive value.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals maintain there is a possibility for them to retain Ervin Santana this offseason. GM Dayton Moore has gone on the record in saying that Santana will get a qualifying offer, notes Dutton, and one club official pointed to the struggles that gave Kyle Lohse on last year's market. Lohse was significantly older than Santana, of course, but a qualifying offer does up the price to sign Santana for everyone other than the Royals. Dutton senses that at this time, the team doesn't want to go beyond three years, but that could change once they gauge the market. Here's more out of the AL Central...
- MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger tackles a host of Twins-related topics in his latest Twins Inbox, starting off by dismissing the notion that Joe Mauer's concussion and Josmil Pinto's impressive big league debut spell the end of Mauer's days behind the plate. Mauer and GM Terry Ryan both say that Mauer will still catch, and the proposed destination of first base for Mauer may not be vacant. Bollinger reports that Justin Morneau is a candidate to return to the team, but there mixed feelings about whether or not he'd return, as he may prefer to sign with a contender.
- Bollinger also notes that Brian Dozier's strong season at second base could make top prospect Eddie Rosario a trade chip to land starting pitching, or it could make Dozier himself a trade chip with Rosario nearing the big leagues. He adds that the Twins need to acquire starting pitching this summer, and Ryan will have the funds to do so via free agency and the prospects to do so via trade. Only Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Mauer (who has a full no-trade clause) are untouchable in trade talks this offseason, according to Bollinger.
- The White Sox gave a club-record $1.6MM signing bonus to Dominican outfield prospect Micker Adolfo this July, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin, and GM Rick Hahn expects more of the same next season as he looks to rebuild the team following a 99-loss campaign. Hahn anticipates being allotted roughly $5MM to spend on international free agents, which should give him plenty of ammunition to be aggressive.