Brian Dozier’s name has been a focal point of the rumor mill for the better part of a month, but his prolonged saga may be drawing to a close, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins have asked interested teams to make their best offers for Dozier in the coming days. According to Neal, Minnesota doesn’t want the scenario to drag on too much longer and will prepare to open the 2017 season with Dozier as the second baseman if no palatable offer surfaces.
Neal suggests that the sticking point between the Twins and the Dodgers, who have long been the clear primary suitor for Dozier, has been that Los Angeles is seeking a straight up, one-for-one swap of Dozier and top pitching prospect Jose De Leon. The Twins, meanwhile, have understandably been insistent on the inclusion of at least one more well-regarded prospect. The Dodgers “haven’t blinked,” however, according to Neal. That lines up with this week’s report from FanRag’s Jon Heyman that the Dodgers aren’t willing to include any of Cody Bellinger, Yadier Alvarez or Walker Buehler alongside De Leon in a trade to acquire Dozier.
Other teams to express interest in Dozier at some point this winter include the Giants, Cardinals, Nationals and Braves, per Neal. However, there’s been very little chatter surrounding the Giants’ interest in recent weeks, while reports out of St. Louis and out of D.C. have suggested that interest from those teams may be somewhat overstated. ESPN’s Mark Saxon reported earlier this week that while the Cardinals may have some interest, they’re not actively pursuing Dozier. More recently, he tweeted that the Cardinals’ reported interest was part of the Twins’ effort “to extract max value from the Dodgers.” Meanwhile, Chelsea Janes from the Washington Post reported this week that any inquiries made on the Nationals’ behalf haven’t been serious in nature.
Atlanta hasn’t been mentioned too often as a potential landing spot for Dozier, though there’s certainly a reasonable fit there. Jace Peterson projects as the everyday second baseman at the moment, but Dozier’s bat would represent a marked upgrade. Adding Dozier would run somewhat counter to many of the Braves’ recent maneuverings on the trade market, which have generally taken a more long-term focus, though Atlanta did send three mid-level prospects to the Cardinals to acquire Jaime Garcia. Of course, Dozier would require top-tier young talent, and there’s been no indication that the Braves are willing to deal that type of talent for shorter-term gains.
While it’s certainly possible that one of these teams steps up and makes an offer to rival the Dodgers, or that another surprise suitor emerges from the woodwork, it seems that the likeliest scenario for a Dozier trade would simply be for the Twins and Dodgers to find a common ground. Neal notes that if the Twins were going to pull the trigger on a one-for-one swap, Dozier would’ve been dealt by now, which indicates that a trade would probably require L.A. to improve its current offer.
Considering the fact that Dozier is controlled for another two seasons at a total of $15MM, the Twins don’t need to simply take the best offer that someone puts on the table. While many point to Dozier’s prodigious second half in 2016, he’s somewhat quietly been a very good player for Minnesota over the past four seasons, averaging 4.1 fWAR and 4.5 rWAR per year in that time. The Twins could well hold onto Dozier until the trade deadline, when a larger market for his services — due to injuries to and/or underperformance from second basemen around the league –could emerge. Of course, in doing so, they run the risk that Dozier has another poor start to the season, as he did in 2016, or that he incurs an injury himself.