Since joining the Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier has been a fixture of the lineup. How could his potential free agency effect the future of the franchise?
Brain Dozier enters the 2018 season in a place he has never been before. I don’t mean the Fort Myers spring training facility. He’s not facing a position battle for the keystone. Dozier is playing the game, for the first time, with the precipice of his free agency on the horizon. Dozier, always the consummate professional, appears to be taking it all in stride, and perhaps with an inkling of excitement.
John Bonnes, in his Report from the Fort at Twinsdaily.com, quoted Dozier as saying,
"“You mentioned “intriguing.” [Free agency] is very intriguing,” said Dozier. “And it’s something that to get excited about. I feel like it’s always a goal of anybody at this level to reach free agency. And that’s no disrespect to this organization because I love this organization. It is all I know. But I do know I’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.”"
While Dozier has expressed a willingness to explore the option of an extension, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, it has not been reported whether the Twins have approached him this spring with any extension talks. The Twins may be willing to move on from Dozier and let him explore the free agent market.
Nick Gordon, the Twins number 8 prospect according to BaseballAmerica, has played three spring training games thus far in 2018 – exclusively at second base. While it is premature to gauge his ability to replace Dozier at second base in 2019, he has swung the bat well thus far in spring. With a double and a triple in 5 at-bats, Gordon is showing promise that his bat will play at the Major League level. Last season, with the Twins Double-A affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts, Gordon compiled a .270/.341/.408 slash line in nearly 600 ABs. Following two consecutive seasons in High A and Double-A ball with a wRC+ of 112 and 117, respectively, he may have only a small amount of seasoning left before he’s ready for the Show.
Gordon may, as has been suggested in his scouting reports, be better suited for second base than shortstop. Providing Gordon with an opportunity at second would give the Twins a young, internal option if Dozier were to sign elsewhere. It’s reasonable to assume that Gordon has been seeing more time this spring on the right side of the infield, rather than the left, to gauge the readiness of his glove for a new position in the Show. His glove has never been particularly great, he has three straight seasons in the minors with 18 or more committed errors, but has yet to commit any errors this spring. Gordon, presumably, would be the first man up from the minor league system in the case of any in-season injury in the middle infield in 2018, if he does not break camp with the big club.
Dozier is a fan favorite, and with Torii Hunter retiring after the 2015 season, has been one of the most important voices in the clubhouse. While its difficult to picture Dozier dawning any other jersey than that of the Twins, the hard realization of Dozier’s impending free agency reminds us that nothing in baseball is guaranteed and its incumbent on both Dozier and the Twins general management to decide the future at second base.