The Minnesota Twins find themselves in an interesting position heading into 2015 when it comes to Brian Dozier. After performing as one of the best second basemen in all of baseball a season ago, it would appear that he is trending towards a large payday. There have been plenty of comments on whether this is the right move for the Twins, but is it maybe the only move?
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Yesterday, Jesse Lund over at Twinkie Town took at look at the possibility of a Brian Dozier extension. He dissected what the final numbers might look like, and whether or not it makes sense to give Dozier a shiny new contract. Lund noted that Minnesota should exercise some caution when it comes to Dozier, as his 2014 season may have been the pinnacle of what he is as a baseball player.
We took a look at a possible contract extension for Brian Dozier earlier this week. Looking at his numbers last season, our argument was of the stance that locking Dozier down to a contract along the lines of one like Jason Kipnis received from the Indians might make sense. Operating under the belief that the production in 2014 was a sign of things to come, Dozier seemed to be an integral piece going forward.
After doing quite a bit of closer examination, I think the answer may actually lie somewhere in the middle. As Jesse referenced in his pieced, FanGraphs pointed out the Dozier has become an extreme pull hitter. 23 or his 24 home runs were hit to left field, and the trend suggests that he might be selling out completely to harness everything he has at the plate. If that trends grows or continues, disaster could be right around the corner. Pitching to the outside immediately turns Dozier into a less than valuable hitter, and someone who may even struggle at the plate. That’s probably taking the extreme too far, but it’s still worth noting.
All of that said, I have since cooled on just how much I want to pay Dozier. A six-year extension is probably not something the Twins should consider. Five years and money south of $43 million seems relatively fair for both sides, and probably reduces the long-term risk just enough. However, if the Twins decide against an extension altogether, the question becomes “who’s next?”
Over the offseason, we have heard glowing reports of Jorge Polanco. The Twins promoted him from Single-A Fort Myers all the way to the big leagues a season ago. The jump was essentially a forced one with the Twins desperately needing infield help. He may not surface again at the big league level all season, and that really isn’t a bad thing. That being said, it’s been pretty widely noted that Polanco can play a major league second base right now.
If the Twins decide to ride out arbitration with Dozier, or even trade him, Polanco would probably be the next man up. Eduardo Escobar could also slide into the starting lineup, but there are plenty of questions about his bat. Of both players. Polanco has a significantly higher ceiling, and probably figures to be more than a utility player at the major league level. If you have to choose though, is this a scenario the Twins want to play out?
Should Minnesota decide that Brian Dozier is not worthy of a contract extension, a trade may be the next best move. It would no doubt hurt the prospects of a team on the cusp in the short-term, but if they can cash in on his value at its highest point, it may make sense.
At the end of the day, I see the Twins staying true to their homegrown second basemen and locking him up long-term. The hope would be that they do so in a way that doesn’t put them in a situation to be tied to a quickly declining asset in the near future however. What Dozier becomes in the next few years will determine the outcome of any extension, and the Twins would be best suited to remember their future is coming, and Brian Dozier isn’t the cornerstone of it.
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