With the Brian Dozier trade rumors swirling, I need to address something. The fact that Jose De Leon is the reported centerpiece isn’t the issue. Rather, it’s the fact some folks are expecting Yadier Alvarez to be involved in a potential deal. It’s fine for that to be the expectation based on inside information, but based on other inside information and simple logic, that expectation isn’t terribly realistic.
Look, I’m not in the Dodger front office (though, I am a paid shill), but from what I’ve heard from sources, as well as just looking at this potential deal logically, there’s only one conclusion: The Dodgers could not possibly involve Alvarez in a Dozier deal because it just makes no sense.
This is what I wrote about Alvarez when I tackled the Dozier rumor at the end of last month.
“Now, let’s circle back and talk cost. The Twins would be well within their right to ask for guys like Bellinger and Alvarez, but I don’t think either of them would be in play in a Dozier deal. Bellinger took another big step forward in 2016 and the Dodgers have almost $32 million invested in Alvarez. If Dozier were under team control for more than two years, I’d probably feel differently, but he’s not.”
And therein lies the issue: The Dodgers have $32 million invested into Alvarez.
With all the talking Stan Kasten has done about building through the farm and the Dodgers sacrificing two years worth of international signees (all while passing on Yoan Moncada) to get Alvarez, it would absolutely floor me if he is at all involved in these Dozier negotiations.
There isn’t an untouchable prospect in the system — no one like Corey Seager or Julio Urias — so Alvarez could be made available in the right deal (say, for Chris Archer, or someone like that), but not for Dozier. That isn’t a slight against Dozier; it’s more of a testament to Alvarez’s potential and what the Dodgers have already invested in him. Even if the deal were expanded to include players the Twins would realistically deal (not Byron Buxton or Miguel Sano), Alvarez probably still wouldn’t be on the table.
Since Urias graduated, Alvarez is one of only two pitchers currently in the system with top-of-the-rotation stuff (the other being Walker Buehler). The odds of either of them being involved are slim-to-none.
Ken Rosenthal wrote about the Dodgers being ready to trade some of their prospect capital to add to an already stronger team. Here are some excerpts:
“De Leon, as an upper-level pitching prospect, represents the most valuable currency in the sport. The Dodgers are set to use that currency to fill the one remaining void in their lineup, whether it’s with Dozier or someone else.”
“An offer of De Leon alone would not be enough for Dozier, who is a bargain over the next two seasons, earning a combined $15 million. But considering the market dynamics, the Twins might want to cut the best deal they can now rather than wait until the deadline.”
This is accurate on both counts.
“As it stands, the Dodgers are looking at two other second basemen – the Rays’ Logan Forsythe and Tigers’ Ian Kinsler. The Rays might not want to move Forsythe unless they begin an extensive rebuild, a scenario that appears unlikely. And the Tigers probably are not a match for the Dodgers – Kinsler would want an extension to waive his no-trade clause to the Dodgers, and it’s difficult to imagine the value-driven L.A. front office doing that for a player who is 34.”
Both of these also make sense, though, I’m not sure why the Rays wouldn’t deal Forsythe if the right deal came along.
New Twins’ head of baseball operations Derek Falvey hasn’t made a big move yet, and trading Dozier would be the biggest move he could make in his first couple months on the job. Minnesota has no reason to keep Dozier as they won’t be contending for at least the next couple seasons, and Dozier’s value will never be higher. Despite that, he might not find a better deal headlined by De Leon either later this offseason or closer to the July 31 trade deadline. Dozier could go off in the first half and increase his trade value, but odds are that he’ll be closer to the player he was in 2013 through ’15 — good not great. That’s the determination he and his staff has to make. If they hold onto Dozier and he booms, then he’ll look like a genius. If they hold onto Dozier and he regresses closer to recent norms (or even busts), he’ll be kicking himself for not taking the prospect package from the Dodgers.
The Twins may be holding out for an Alvarez inclusion, but it isn’t gonna happen. If Alvarez were a cheaper international signee without the top-of-the-rotation potential, this might be different. As it stands, though, Kasten would put the kibosh on involving Alvarez. Regardless, De Leon is a fine centerpiece for Dozier, and he would help the Twins’ rotation this season and beyond. Pair him with fellow unincorporated U.S. territoryman Jose Berrios, and Minnesota has a nice Puerto Rican duo for the next six seasons.
The next two (or three) pieces are what’s left to be negotiated. Brock Stewart is a guy who makes a lot of sense for the Twins. He’s MLB-ready, young and cost-controlled (just like De Leon) for the next six seasons. The third piece could be someone like Trayce Thompson or a lower-level lottery ticket like Imani Abdullah, Brendon Davis, Gavin Lux, Jordan Sheffield or Mitchell White. It’s odd we haven’t heard Alex Verdugo‘s name much in these rumors, but he might work for the Twins as well. Same goes for Willie Calhoun, but while I’m not expecting either of them in this deal (if it ever happens), I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Twins wanted one of them included, either.
If the Dodgers and Twins can’t come to an agreement, there is a Plan B (and probably C, D and E) to fill the second base void. However, Dozier makes about the most sense of any of the rumored available guys, and with these two teams having done this much work on a deal, it’s hard to see it not getting done — either today or after the new year.
One thing is almost for certain: Yadier Alvarez will not be involved in this potential deal.