We’ve been writing an awful lot about Brian Dozier on this website. You could almost go as far as to rename this site Twins Digest at this point.
It has been six weeks since the first mention of Dozier and the Dodgers, but the rumor really started to heat up at the Winter Meetings — just about a month ago. While the holidays and end of the year has contributed to the delay in something happening, it still has taken a long time to get to this point.
The Twins have asked for final offers, and the Dodgers have, presumably, made their offer. It’s built around Jose De Leon and other pieces (not Yadier Alvarez, Cody Bellinger or Walker Buehler), and I don’t believe for a second the report of it being a 1-for-1 offer.
So, what happens if the two teams can’t come to an agreement? The Twins either move on and gamble that Dozier won’t regress so much that it hurts his trade value for the summer, or they trade him to another team. They will trade him, but they’re not under any mandate to trade him now.
As for the Dodgers, well, that’s where things get a little murky and unstable.
Right now, the Dodgers have three players under contract who can play second base: Enrique Hernandez, Micah Johnson and Chris Taylor. Austin Barnes has dabbled at the position, but he is now the backup to Yasmani Grandal. Unless the Dodgers acquire another catcher (after trading Carlos Ruiz in November), Barnes will play almost exclusively behind the dish.
FanGraphs/Steamer has the Dodgers projected to get 1.7 wins above replacement from that quartet — 1.3 of it coming from Hernandez. That’s not league-average, but the Dodgers have enough offense around to withstand those guys playing second base. In fact, the Dodgers could upgrade another position *cough*left field*cough* if they fail to land Dozier. But what other second basemen could the Dodgers acquire to improve?
Ian Kinsler makes the most sense, as I wrote on Halloween. The problem with Kinsler is he wants a contract extension to waive his no-trade clause. For a guy going into his age-35 season, that isn’t terribly appealing. Maybe that means guaranteeing his option for 2018 and an extra year, which would be bearable. But if he wants an additional year or two on top of that, the Dodgers would be best served to go with an internal option.
Logan Forsythe also makes a lot of sense, but the Rays don’t appear to be actively shopping him. That makes some sense as they have a lot of good, young pitching and just enough offense to perhaps surprise some folks this coming season. But the American League East isn’t exactly the easiest division in which to compete, so perhaps Tampa would be more willing to trade Forsythe in the summer if they’re not contending.
Other than those two, the other options aren’t terribly appealing. The Reds would love to ditch Brandon Phillips, but he is not a good player anymore. The Rangers have a nice trade chip in Jurickson Profar, but they’re not going to give him up for anything less than a stellar return (maybe the same or more than the Twins are expecting for Dozier). The Cardinals probably wouldn’t be opposed to moving Kolten Wong, but he also just isn’t that good. The Padres could stand to move a Ryan Schimpf, Cory Spangenberg or Yangervis Solarte, but the last time the Dodgers traded with the Padres, it was quite the public relations show. Solarte is the most appealing of the players listed, but his glove fits better at third base and the bat plays better at second. Perhaps there’s a match there, especially with Logan White potentially eyeing some of his former draftees.
As I alluded to earlier, maybe the Dodgers upgrade left field instead. They have no shortage of guys who could play the position — Andre Ethier, Darin Ruf, Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles, Scott Van Slyke — but a more concrete solution could be appealing.
The Dodgers were close (but maybe not that close) to trading for Ryan Braun at the waiver trade deadline, but that involved Yasiel Puig going the other way. If that kind of deal went down now, it might not be as beneficial if the Dodgers just have to shift some of the guys mentioned above to right field, but I’m sure Milwaukee wouldn’t hesitate to get rid of Braun’s deal, provided the return was to their liking.
Andrew McCutchen is also still out there. He was almost sent to the Nationals before that deal fell apart, and plugging him in as the left fielder would not only allow the Dodgers to go with a 2- or 3-man platoon at second base, McCutchen would get to move out of center field, a place he has struggled for many years. Then again, Cutch would cost the most of any player mentioned in this post, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.
One interesting name still on the free agent market is Jose Bautista. While he would cost the Dodgers their first-round draft pick, Bautista is still an above-average hitter, even after having a down season in 2016 (122 wRC+). It’s a far cry from what he was the previous six seasons (156 wRC+), but he’s still good at the plate. The biggest problem with him is his defense, where he has a good arm, but that’s about it. The 36-year-old hasn’t played left field since 2009 and has been below-average in right field since 2010 (his second season with the Blue Jays). Asking him to man left field might not jibe with him, just as giving him a large 1- or 2-year deal might not jibe with the Dodgers.
We should see some sort of resolution on the Dozier front this week. There really can’t be that much more to discuss on either side, so the sides will agree to a deal or both will move on. It’s really that simple. If it’s the latter, the Dodgers will have to come up with another solution — and I’m sure there’s a Plan B, C, D and probably E. We’ll see what happens.