Minnesota Twins: Brian Dozier trade came at the right time
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins have explored a trade for Brian Dozier several times over his last couple seasons in Minnesota. This trade deadline was the right time.
The Minnesota Twins punctuated their fire sale at the trade deadline with a trade that sent fan favorite and vocal clubhouse leader Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The trade has created a variety of responses ranging from disbelief in a player of his talent simply being sent away. To many also wondering why a Dozier trade didn’t happen earlier.
There will always be irony in the fact that after about two years of Dodger-Dozier rumors the trade finally happened. What doesn’t make sense is how there seems to be a strong voice that suggests that the Twins should have traded Dozier two years ago. From what we know, there would have been great disappointment if that 2016-2017 offseason version of the Dozier to the Dodgers swap would have been completed.
If we go back to that offseason we will remember, Dozier was coming off a season in which he hit .268/.340/.546 and slugged 42 home runs. He also had two years remaining of a team friendly contract. Everything seemed good, besides the fact that the Twins had just gone 59-103 and needed to do something to turn things around and inject life into the franchise.
The easiest path to making a big change to the roster was to try to trade Dozier for a package of players that included an impact starting pitcher. That 2016-2017 offseason became the offseason of Dozier rumors. As we now know, nothing would happen and the only real deal that seemed to be available was a swap with the Dodgers for prospect pitcher Jose De Leon.
De Leon was coming off of a season at Triple-A where he tossed 86.1 innings in 16 starts and held a 2.61 ERA and an 11.6 K/9. That was enough to create lots of excitement around the young right-hander even after a rough major league debut where he made four starts, had good results with a 2-0 record, but held a 6.35 ERA and 7.9 K/9. De Leon had performed well enough to create excitement, but there were still plenty of question marks surrounding how De Leon would continue to develop.
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So without any other offers and the Dodgers unwilling to include a second player in a trade, the Twins passed and the Dodgers instead acquired current Twin Logan Forsythe from the Tampa Bay Rays. Since being traded to the Rays, De Leon has only been able to pitch 41.0 innings as he has struggled with injury and is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. He is also now approaching his 26th birthday causing him quickly to become “old” by prospect standards.
By not trading Dozier, the Twins were able to benefit from his 2017 performance of .271/.359/.498 and a .856 OPS as well as 34 home runs and 30 doubles. That all was part of a season that ended with a second half surge that helped the Twins earn wild-card spot.
The value of Dozier’s 2017 performance at this point appears much more valuable than what De Leon would have provided the Twins. That paired with the fact that the Twins are building up a farm system with some potential impact arms in the way of Fernando Romero, Brusdar Graterol, and Stephen Gonsalves of their own makes helps make the trade look even better. De Leon still has time to become a quality major league pitcher, but the Twins certainly aren’t missing him at this point.
While it always looked like the Twins could or should have cashed on Dozier’s perceived trade value a couple offseason ago, the reality was there just wasn’t much on the table. It is the age-old saying, “it takes two to tango.” The front office did the right thing by hanging on to him and getting one more good season out of the second baseman. And the trade deadline deal to the Dodgers still netted them two prospects that they can develop or trade in the next several seasons.