6:28PM: Dozier will earn $2.2MM if he makes San Diego’s roster, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link), plus some extra money is available to Dozier via contract incentives.
10:38AM: The Padres have agreed to terms with second baseman Brian Dozier and invited him to MLB spring training, report AJ Cassavell of MLB.com (via Twitter) and Robert Murray (Twitter link). It’ll be a minor-league deal, Murray adds (via Twitter). Dozier is a client of All Bases Covered Sports Management.
Dozier was once an elite performer for the Twins but has tailed off a bit in recent years. Over the last two seasons, he compiled a .225/.320/.408 line (94 wRC+) with 41 home runs in 1114 plate appearances with Minnesota, the Dodgers and the Nationals. That pales in comparison to the stellar .269/.349/.522 (129 wRC+) mark with 72 homers he posted over the two seasons prior.
At age 32, Dozier’s days as a masher are probably behind him. Even recently, though, he’s remained a generally productive player. Not only has he gotten regular playing time on contending clubs, he’s remained a solid hitter. Last season in Washington, Dozier hit .238/.340/.430 (99 wRC+). Defensive metrics are mixed on his work on second base. UZR thinks he’s a perfectly fine defender, while DRS and Statcast are more bearish.
As the slash line indicates, Dozier remains capable of hitting for power and drawing walks, making him a solid veteran bat near the bottom of a team’s order. He also makes a fair amount of contact, although his fly ball approach has perennially driven low batting averages on balls in play. The Statcast metrics also suggest Dozier’s something of a league average bat, as his .331 xwOBA last season ranked in the 49th percentile.
In many years, that would’ve been enough for Dozier to find a guaranteed MLB job, but the free agent market at second base was loaded with similar veterans. It’s still a bit surprising to see he’ll have to earn his way onto a 40-man roster in spring training, although there’s certainly room for him to do so with the Padres.
Jurickson Profar, Greg Garcia and Breyvic Valera are San Diego’s top three current options at second base. Padres’ GM A.J. Preller is surely fond of Profar, having signed him as an international free agent with the Rangers and acquired him from the A’s this offseason. Dozier arguably outplayed Profar last season, though, as the latter has never quite made good on his vaunted prospect status. Meanwhile, non-roster invitees Esteban Quiroz and Gordon Beckham figure to have a tougher shot at making the club.
There’s nothing to lose, meanwhile, from San Diego’s perspective. They’ll get a look at a more productive player than most minor-league signees who plays a position of uncertainty. Alternatively, they could consider Dozier as a right-handed bench bat, a profile which the 26-man active roster makes more capable of stashing on the roster. Dozier has a career .270/.354/.500 slash against left-handed pitching and has continued to hit southpaws well in recent seasons.