Dec. 31, 2016
Why the Dodgers Should be Wary of a Brian Dozier Deal
The Los Angeles Dodgers trading for Brian Dozier seems nearly inevitable right now. After re-signing 3B Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers have one glaring hole at second base. Enter Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who is coming off a career year and is under contract for two more inexpensive seasons ($6 million next season, $9 million in 2018).
It's a perfect fit and would give the Dodgers a highly formidable infield. Chase Utley remains unsigned and Howie Kendrick was traded to Philadelphia, so if the season started today Enrique Hernandez would likely be the everyday second baseman. Dozier would unquestionably be an upgrade, as the 29-year-old put up a career season in 2016.
Dozier's first half was relatively normal, as the slugger slashed .246/.335/.450 and hit 14 homers in the first 83 games of the season. That triple slash is almost in line with his career mark (.246/.320/.442), so no reason to think anything was out of the ordinary there. However, Dozier exploded in the second half with a .291/.344/.646 line and 28 homers, which matched his single-season career high.
Generally speaking, I'm against power hitters coming to LA. Dodger Stadium tends to be pitcher-friendly, and playing road games in San Francisco and San Diego doesn't help (although Arizona and Colorado do). Dozier isn't a one-trick pony, despite his usually-low batting average. Dozier has stolen double digit bases in each of his four full seasons. He also plays above-average defense at second, which is important for a Dodger team that seemingly couldn't turn a double play last season.
Perhaps most appealing for the reigning NL West champs is Dozier's success against left-handed pitching. The Dodgers' struggles against left-handed pitching has been written about ad nauseam, and Dozier would be a nice upgrade there. In his career, Dozier is a .270/.343/.512 hitter in 800 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. That will get the job done.
So why should the Dodgers be wary? Dozier's first three full seasons were all fairly similar. Batting average in the .240 range, 20ish homers, double digit steals and good defense. He was on that pace through the first half of 2016 as well, but went crazy in the second half. So which Dozier would the Dodgers be paying for, and which Dozier will the Dodgers get? The Twins looking to trade Dozier right now is a definite "sell high" move. My main concern isn't so much about how his game will translate to the NL, it's about what the Dodgers will have to give up to acquire him.
Sources: Dodgers have shown willingness to include top pitching prospect Jose DeLeon in a deal for Brian Dozier. Would be strong headliner.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 16, 2016
A high starting point, but this makes plenty of sense from both sides. The Dodgers trade from a position of depth (ML-ready starting pitching prospects), the Twins get a very good arm to pair with their own former top prospect Jose Berrios. A package that starts with De Leon is enough to get the Twins' attention, but won't be enough to cripple the Dodgers future.
The next pieces are where things get dicy. To me, there's no way Yadier Alvarez, Cody Bellinger or Walker Buehler should be the second piece of this package. Bellinger should be close to untouchable as he should line up perfectly with Adrian Gonzalez's free agency. Alvarez and Buehler are both a couple seasons away, but their ceilings are incredibly high. Willie Calhoun would be another expensive second piece, but his defense raises questions about whether he'll succeed in the National League. Another ML-ready starter (Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart) could appeal to the Twins, but the Dodgers proved last season that pitching depth is very important to them.
Dozier to the Dodgers makes a ton of sense, and justifiably Dodger fans should be ecstatic if it happens. However, buying high scares me and if the Dodgers give up a package close to what the Nationals gave up for Adam Eaton, I'd be a lot less happy about it.