Legends On Deck

The Twins Should Trade Brian Dozier

With the pomp and circumstance of the holiday season coming to a close, it is time for teams to get back to work.  Picking up where we left off is the possibility of the Minnesota Twins trading away slugger Brian Dozier.  It has been rumored over the past several weeks the interest and need the Los Angeles Dodgers have in the second baseman.  The Dodgers have made it known that they would be willing to trade away one of their top prospects, Jose De Leon, in a deal for Dozier.  Being that a deal hasn’t been done leads one to believe that the Twins want more, or they are hoping to pull in other teams to get the best package they can for the All-Star.

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, a couple of other teams have now seemed to want to get involved as well.  The San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, as well as the Washington Nationals have at least checked in with the Twins to see what their demands would be.  It remains to be seen how serious any of those teams actually are.

The Dodgers are the team with the glaring need for a second baseman.  It is quite possible, now that the Los Angeles traded away Howie Kendrick, that Enrique Hernandez could be their starter unless a deal of some sort is made.  Hernandez had a good 2015 but wasn’t so good in 2016.  The idea of adding a bat like Dozier to that lineup is probably why the Dodgers have thrown De Leon’s name out as bait to a team that is fishing for pitching.

De Leon made is major league debut in 2016 as a September call-up but struggled.  He made four starts with the Dodgers winning two of them, but had a ERA of 6.35.  Since it is such a small sample size, focus on his success in the minor leauges should be where most attention is paid.  De Leon has been a dominate pitcher at each level he’s reached including Triple-A.  Last season with the Dodgers affiliate Oklahoma City, De Leon went 7-1 with an ERA of 2.61.  He tallied 111 strikeouts in 86.1 innings which works out to be 11.6 K/9.

Minnesota adding a pitcher of his caliber would certainly be welcomed.  But are they waiting for more?  Another player that of course would be of some interest is Cody Bellinger.  Bellinger is power-hitting first baseman which the Twins crave.  They currently have hometown hero Joe Mauer entrenched there at least until the end of the 2018 season, so there would be no rush to get Bellinger to the big leagues.  It could be a passing of the torch of sorts if they were to acquire him as he would most likely be ready to take over the reigns in 2018.  Bellinger is obviously a player Twins fans have thrown out there as an acceptable piece in a deal for Dozier, but it is not known how the Dodgers feel about that.

The three other teams that have become known to be interested are all interesting cases.

The San Francisco Giants have Joe Panik penciled in to play second, but Dozier is an obvious upgrade.  Panik’s 2016 was quite the drop-off from his All-Star 2015 season.  He played in a career high 127 games in 2016 up from 100 in 2015, but had eight fewer hits in almost 100 more at-bats.  If the Giants are willing to give up on him this early, a trade for Dozier makes perfect sense.  They might be able to include Panik in a deal to get him.  Another player of interest (at least for Twins fans) would be Giants top pitching prospect Tyler Beede.  Beede has spent the last two seasons in Double-A, and could be ready for the jump to Triple-A this spring.  The Giants haven’t made anything known as far as who they are willing to part with as of yet.

The St. Louis Cardinals are an interesting case as well because they have Kolten Wong (Twins drafted Wong in 16th round of 2008 draft but didn’t sign) already playing there.  Like the Giants, Wong could be a piece heading back to Minnesota in a trade for Dozier.  Obvious prospects of interest would be Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver.  Reyes is as MLB-ready as they come and has already made an impact at that level.  The biggest downfall for him is his past 50-game suspension he was given last November for testing positive for marijuana.  It really isn’t likely that the Cardinals even consider trading him at this point, but that could be the asking price for Dozier.  Weaver is more likely as he struggled in his brief stint in the majors but was really good in the minors.

One team that was mentioned that really doesn’t make sense is the Washington Nationals.  With Daniel Murphy playing second Dozier isn’t an obvious fit, but it would be remiss if they didn’t at least explore the idea of adding that pop to their lineup.

Whatever happens between now and the start of the season, the Minnesota Twins have a serious decision to make.  When you are as far away as they are from being a serious contender and other teams in the division stacking up for the future, they would be silly to hold on to a player that has as much value as Dozier does now.  Minnesota is in the driver’s seat and the time is now.

John Ginder
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