Will Brian Dozier’s amazing home run pace earn him a ticket out of town? The Minnesota Twins would do well to shop him this winter.
Minnesota Twins fans searching for a bright spot in an ugly 2016 season know exactly where to look: Brian Dozier. The second baseman has been an absolute monster at the plate this year, mashing a career-high 41 home runs and counting. Dozier set a new American League record for homers hit by a second baseman, breaking the mark of 39 set by Alfonso Soriano with the New York Yankees in 2002. With one more round-tripper, he will tie the overall single-season benchmark held by Rogers Hornsby and Davey Johnson.
Dozier has flexed his home run hitting ability in the past, belting 51 homers in the past two seasons combined. But this year he has turned it up another notch… or several. At a position not typically known for power hitters, Dozier is setting himself apart. He currently trails the Orioles’ Mark Trumbo by only one for the league lead in home runs.
What makes Dozier’s performance even more remarkable is how poorly he started the season. At the beginning of June he owned a .202/.294/.329 slash line with five homers and 17 RBI. Since then he’s raised his line to .281/.354/.576 to go along with 41 long balls and 98 RBI. Pitcher-friendly Target Field hasn’t slowed him down either: 20 of his home runs have come there, and he boasts a .914 OPS at home.
But is Dozier’s scorching hot bat all good news for the Twins, a club with an MLB-worst 55-94 record? Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press wonders if the 29-year-old’s resounding performance will give Minnesota little choice but to cash in on his soaring value through a trade in the offseason.
Aside from his on-field heroics, Dozier will also draw significant appeal thanks to his very team-friendly contract. He is set to make $6 million in 2017 and $9 million the following year before becoming eligible for free agency. If he more or less maintains his offensive prowess, you would be hard-pressed to find a better bargain in baseball.
The upcoming free agent class is very weak in general, but it does have a few of the game’s better power hitters, including Yoenis Cespedes (assuming he opts out), Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo. If the Twins made Dozier available, he would become an intriguing option for teams seeking offense. He would cost a fraction of what the others would demand in terms of money and years, but Minnesota would certainly want a tantalizing prospect package in return.
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Based on positional need, minor league depth and financial strength, Dozier would be a legitimate alternative for some clubs.
However, as a franchise hoping to rebound after a rough season, trading Dozier would also be a tough pill to swallow for the Twins. He expressed a desire to stay in Minnesota for his entire career after signing an extension last year, but losing (and losing often) can change things. If the Twins approached Dozier about another new deal to reward him for his incredible production this season, how much would they offer? Would he be interested?
The fact that the Twins are searching for a new general manager also complicates matters, as Dozier intimated to Berardino: “You need to see after the season who is going to be our GM, which obviously plays a huge part in it.”
Considering how miserable of a year the Twins have had, it would be irresponsible of them to not at least explore what they could get for Dozier on the trade market this winter. Baseball is unpredictable, but how confident are they in truly being able to compete at any point over the next two years? It’s also worth noting that this is almost certainly the highest point Dozier’s value will ever reach. He’s been rocking an otherworldly 35.5 percent HR/FB (home run to fly ball) rate since the start of August which will be impossible to sustain (career is 12.8 percent). So don’t necessarily expect an encore of this 40-plus homer performance.
What do you think? Should the Twins take advantage of Dozier’s career year and deal him this offseason? Sound off in the comment section below.