Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dozier And The Discussion Of Necessity

The Minnesota Twins have not had a ton of needs to address this offseason. While the 2016 season produced the worst record in major league history, it was indicative of the worst pitching staff in the big leagues. With more reason to rely on internal options, addressing deficiencies through a poor free agent market never seemed like a good bet. If there was something to be addressed though, it was Brian Dozier.

Coming off the best season of his career, the first as an All Star, and having totaled over 40 homers for the first (and potentially only) time, Minnesota finds themselves at a crossroads. Sure, there's little room to argue that the Twins lineup isn't better with Dozier in it, but in getting back to being a playoff contender, does Dozier realistically fit in the picture?

It's been clear for quite some time that Minnesota was going to be forced into a decision. Jorge Polanco is an up and coming prospect that can realistically only help the Twins at second base. Dozier wasn't extended into his free agent years, will undoubtedly never be better, and is playing for a Twins squad that isn't exactly close to contending. So, does Minnesota need to trade him at all costs?

The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is yes with some caveats.

Thus far, the Los Angeles Dodgers have emerged as the likely landing spot. That has been expected since the talks of a trade were initially thought probable. Los Angeles needs just another piece or two for a World Series run, and second base remains a large hole for them. With the club now open to trading their top pitching prospect Jose De Leon, Minnesota is simply jostling with who joins him on the flight to the Twin Cities.

As expected, the Dozier are reluctant to trade first base prospect Cody Bellinger. He's near big league ready, looks like the real deal, and should seamlessly take over for Adrian Gonzalez. Expecting the Dodgers to deal Yadier Alvarez, whom they invested over $30 million in signing him out of Cuba, never seemed like a good bet. Asking for 2016 draft pick Walker Bueller didn't seem to be a realistic bet either. Nonetheless, Minnesota has inquired on all three and reportedly been turned down.

That brings up to the "trade Dozier at all costs" crossroads. Right now, the Twins have followed the best possible path in dealing their star. They made sure to guarantee that the centerpiece of any deal is included, and they've aimed as high as possible for any secondary players. Now it's time to pull the trigger and take what else you can get.

De Leon quite possibly helps the Twins more long term than does Dozier. Getting another prospect such as Brock Stewart or Willie Calhoun in addition is something Minnesota should feel content with. While they may not see the immediate impact that another year of Dozier may provide, understanding that any step backwards would squash the ability to move him at any time. Right now it's about asking for the stars (they have) and settling for everything you can get (they need to).

With how much smoke there has been this offseason in regards to Dozier moving from Minnesota to Los Angeles, you'd be hard pressed to suggest anything less than a 90 percent chance a deal is consummated. It's taking a bit longer than I imagined, but the process the Twins have followed thus far has been the right one. At this point, it's time to back off the highest ask, take what you can get, and close the chapter on a deal that should benefit both sides.

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