There have been plenty of rumors connecting the Dodgers to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier over the past several weeks, and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports today that the Dodgers have now shown a willingness to include top pitching prospect Jose De Leon in a theoretical Dozier swap (Twitter links). Aaron Gleeman of Baseball Prospectus tweeted yesterday that discussions between the two sides are seemingly focused on what would come to Minnesota alongside De Leon. FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweeted today that multiple teams are inquiring with the Twins on Dozier. Heyman further tweets that the Twins like first base/outfield prospect Cody Bellinger as well, though it’s tougher to see the Dodgers parting with him.
De Leon, 24, would make for a high-profile headliner in a Dozier trade. The right-hander currently ranks second among Dodgers farmhands and 33rd league-wide, per MLB.com’s rankings. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen rates him fourth in the Dodgers’ system, though that’s not so much a knock on De Leon as it is a vote of confidence in other L.A. prospects. De Leon entered the 2016 season ranked as a consensus top 30 prospect in the Majors and did little to dispel the notion that he merited such praise. An ankle injury and some shoulder inflammation limited De Leon’s time on the field, but when healthy he totaled 86 1/3 innings (16 starts) in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and registered a pristine 2.61 ERA with 11.6 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. He made his big league debut with the Dodgers as well, albeit with considerably less success; De Leon’s first four MLB starts resulted in a 6.35 ERA and a 15-to-7 K/BB ratio in a total of 17 innings. MLB.com praises him as a potential No. 2 starter, while Longenhagen feels he’s more of a mid-rotation arm with the potential for plus fastball command and a plus changeup.
In Dozier, the Dodgers would be acquiring a much-needed right-handed bat that can feast on left-handed pitching. Los Angeles was baseball’s worst team against lefties in 2016, but Dozier mashed southpaws at a .282/.352/.613 clip. Dozier’s 42 home runs last year thrust him into the national spotlight, but he’s quietly been an excellent player for the Twins in each of the past four seasons. He doesn’t hit for a high average, but Dozier draws enough walks to post solid OBP marks and has batted a collective .248/.326/.456 since 2013. His power output has increased in each of his Major League seasons, and he rates as a solid defensive second baseman that also contributes value through baserunning. Dozier has averaged 28 homers and 16 steals per season over the past four years and is controlled through the 2018 campaign at an affordable total of $15MM, giving him plenty of value from a financial standpoint as well.
New Twins execs Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have seemingly been open to listening on virtually any player in trade talks, but they’ve also indicated that they’re in no rush to move Dozier and would feel plenty comfortable heading into the 2017 season with him entrenched at second base. Given Dozier’s contract status, Minnesota could certainly extract considerable value for his services this summer or even next winter as well.