Following trades of Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly, Twins fan favorite Brian Dozier seems all but destined to be donning another uniform on August 1st. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports that both the Indians and Giants have been scouting the second baseman this week, who’s set to become a free agent at season’s end.
Dozier, 31, has been having a down season by his standards, slashing just .226/.307/.409 across the season’s first four months. He’s played below-average defense by measure of both UZR and DRS, and he’s on pace for his lowest homer total since 2014. Fangraph’s WAR formula pegs him as a slightly-below-average major leaguer so far this season after being at least a 5-win player in each of the past two campaigns.
Then again, Dozier’s been known to go off in the season’s second half. Dozier’s career wRC+ following the All-Star Break (116) is a full 13 points higher than his lifetime performance before it (103). His wOBA and triple-slash paint a similar picture. Just last season, in fact, exactly half of Dozier’s 34 homers came in either August or September, as did 33 of his 78 walks. While that doesn’t mean an acquiring team can lean heavily on that type of production as a pattern, it’s certainly encouraging for his many suitors.
One of those suitors, the Indians, have been known to be looking for help on offense, and Berardino notes that they’re still checking in on second and third base options as well as outfielders. Cleveland has also been connected to Joey Gallo within the past 24 hours, and could be even more heavily motivated to get some help on offense following recent news that Tyler Naquin is likely headed to the DL. As Berardino points out, longtime Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis is enduring another down season, evidenced by his season batting line of .219/.306/.362 (though it’s worth noting that he’s picked up the pace significantly in the past six weeks).
While Dozier could potentially eat into Kipnis’ playing time, another possible scenario would be for Dozier to push Kipnis into the outfield mix, where the Indians are without particularly inspiring options. A stint in center field last season didn’t have good results for Kip, but it’s entirely possible he would be a better option there than the 37-year-old Rajai Davis or rookie Greg Allen. The Indians also probably don’t know what to expect from Lonnie Chisenhall, either, who has yet to amass 100 plate appearances this season due to a series of calf injuries, so it’s not difficult to imagine Kipnis being useful in right field, either.
As for the Giants, the fit is more obvious. Joe Panik has spent significant time on the disabled list this season and remains there at present. Even when the 27-year-old has been able to take the field, the results haven’t been great; he’s slashing 240/.309/.345 across 224 plate appearances and is rated as being roughly replacement level by Fangraphs. Then again, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the Giants taking a long look at Dozier in the first place considering he’s a pure rental and the Giants currently sit 6.5 games back of the division with significant questions in almost every area of their roster. While they’re a bit closer in the NL Wild Card race at just five games back, there are also five teams ahead of them in that race that they’d need to leapfrog just to secure a spot in the one-game playoff.