The Minnesota Twins could be learning from Neil Walker’s offseason
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins are looking to let Brian Dozier test free agency. Do they currently have a great case study to help them navigate that possibility?
The Minnesota Twins haven’t lacked headlines this offseason. The team was active in signing bullpen arms, all the news surrounding Miguel Sano, Logan Morrison‘s signing, and the trade for Jake Odorizzi. Something that has been all the buzz in the recent weeks is the news that Brian Dozier extension talks are going nowhere currently.
Trying to replace Dozier
Long-term the Twins have no shortage of options for who could replace Dozier defensively. With three of their top five prospects in Royce Lewis, Nick Gordon, and Wander Javier being middle infielders. Not to mention current Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco could be part of that contingency plan to replace Dozier if he walks as a free agent at season’s end.
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What if a lack of extension talks doesn’t necessarily mean that the Twins front office isn’t planning on trying to bring Dozier back? It is clear that Dozier’s bat would be tough to replace. The second baseman has consistently proven to have great power and be able to launch over 30 home runs per season. That power isn’t something that may be matched by one of the four young infielders mentioned earlier. Maybe Morrison is meant to be the batting replacement for Dozier in 2018, or maybe the Twins don’t think they will need to replace Dozier at all. The Twins may be looking at Neil Walker‘s free agent status a couple of weeks into spring training and see a lot of Dozier similarities.
Comparing Dozier and Walker
Since 2012, the two second baseman have been similar players. Dozier displays a little more power, which may ultimately make him a little more desirable for major league teams. Here is what Dozier’s and Walker’s numbers since 2012 look like next to one another.
Overall, Dozier is still likely the more valuable player. Their WAR values speak to that as Dozier’s 22.9 WAR tops Walker’s 16.2 WAR. What is more important than who is truly better, is do their similar values hint to a similar offseason for Dozier after the 2018 season comes to a close?
It seems possible that the Twins front office may be banking on just such an offseason. That would mean likely that the value Dozier believes he has right now would certainly plummet just like we have seen happen with several free agents this offseason. We just saw Mike Moustakas sign a contract which slates him to make $5.5 million for 2018. Not to mention, next offseason will be stacked with high end free agent talent. At what point may teams simply run out of money to spend on Dozier?
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This is pure speculation at this point. We can’t be sure how the trends of this offseason will carry over into next offseason. It does seem all too curious that Walker still sits out there unsigned and at the same time the Twins are choosing not to before they have to, commit to Dozier long-term.