Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Twins Make Cents In Extending Dozier

Today, the Minnesota Twins announced the four-year, $20 million extension of their All Star second basemen Brian Dozier. The two sides have been discussing a deal for much of spring training, and the numbers finally came into fruition. With the announcement, the Twins have locked up their second basemen for the foreseeable future.
At the heart of the numbers, both sides stand a lot to gain here. With the four years included in the deal, the Twins have bought out Dozier's remaining arbitration years, but have left his free agent years untouched. As it stands, Dozier will be set to become a free agent entering the 2019 season at which he will be 31 years old. Due to the construction of the deal, the Twins decided to bank on Dozier's continued success more than anything.

After posting a .242/.345/.416 slash line and blasting 23 home runs a season ago, the Twins watched Dozier take his game to new heights. Should the numbers continue to trend in that direction, the Twins stand to gain a significant amount over the next four years. In 2014, Dozier gets a raise from the $550k he was slated to make and instead will earn $2 million. Over the course of the next three years, Dozier will earn $3 million, $6 million, and $9 million.

With this structure, the Twins have a lot of ground to save money in arbitration. As Twins Daily noted this morning, arbitration for a player similar to Dozier a season ago, had the Pirates handing out $8 million to Neil Walker. Minnesota stands to save a significant amount as long as Dozier's production continues on the same plane. By avoiding arbitration, even the $9 million fully guaranteed in 2018 would be a bargain deal for a 31 year old All Star caliber second basemen.

The biggest issue Minnesota faces with the extension is the unknown. Looking at possible regression trends, fangraphs pointed our a concerning trend for the Twins and Dozier going forward. Being such a dead pull hitter, it's conceivable that Dozier could be doing all he can to maximize his power stroke until it runs out. For opposing pitchers, attacking the outside of the plate could spell disaster, and see the value of a power hitting second basemen immediately disappear. Looking at his walk rates, Dozier should have a patient enough approach to continue refining his ability at the plate throughout the remainder of his career.

With the Twins forgoing the ability to buy out any free agent years, or even grab hold of a team option, they will be at the mercy of Dozier come 2019. Knowing that they are banking on continued production, this could be an expensive gamble. However, Dozier could see the extension as a bargaining point that keeps him in a Twins uniform for the remainder of his career as well. Although that's getting a bit ahead of ourselves, it's not as if the Twins don't have options. Jorge Polanco has been regarded by many as major league ready defensively at this point, and the Twins have four years to feel things out.
At the end of the day, if Brian Dozier continues to improve or even remains on the same trajectory he currently is on, both sides are winners at the end of the day. Minnesota avoids what could end up being costly arbitration proceedings, and Dozier lands a $20 million payday.

Oh, and because I'm sure you still need to hear it, there's really no difference whether or not Dozier ever hits for average.

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