Monday, January 9, 2017

Twins Blueprint Hinges On Dozier Deal

We've now turned the calendar to 2017, and the offseason is quickly coming to a close. The Minnesota Twins will report to sunny Fort Myers in a matter of weeks, and shortly thereafter Opening Day will be upon us. Dominating headlines this winter has been what the Twins will do with Brian Dozier, and it is in that decision that we can raise questions about what the plan for the future is.

Conventional wisdom says that the Twins should trade Brian Dozier for the best possible return. He's the club's best player, coming off of a career year, and there's just two years left on his team friendly contract. While Paul Molitor's club should be a far cry from the 103 losses they suffered in 2016, expecting a deep playoff run isn't realistic either. With Minnesota arguably more than just two years away, Dozier's greatest value is in what he brings back that can supplement the next Postseason team.

Unfortunately, the market for Dozier hasn't materialized as Minnesota has needed it to. The Los Angeles Dodgers have seemed like the best fit from the get go, but they have also become virtually the only landing spot. While top prospect Jose De Leon is a nice get for the Twins, he alone doesn't represent fair value for the All Star second basemen. With no other bidders however, the Twins are watching as fair value is turned into what someone will pay.

Whether or not a trade is consummated by the two sides, I find it hard to suggest that Minnesota should take less than Dozier is worth (De Leon by himself), but the flip side is also worth questioning. If De Leon on his own is short-ending the Twins now, is holding Dozier for a potential non-existent return in the future even worse?

You could make the case that Brian Dozier may hold value to a contender somewhere around the 2017 trade deadline, and if you want to go further, that he may present value for Minnesota as a guy that could be tagged with a qualifying offer two years from now. Both of those hopes require that he continue to produce at a very high level however. For a guy that has reinvented himself into a power pull hitter, Dozier will need to stay ahead of opposing pitchers as he looks to keep playing at a high level.

So what happens when you don't trade Dozier? Well, both Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will have some explaining to do when it comes to future plans. Even though Minnesota isn't likely to lose 100+ games again in 2017, returning Dozier doesn't make them relevant. Worse is that in returning Dozier, and with the free agent market where it is, the roster will be constructed in virtually an identical way it was a season ago. That development would signify a hesitancy to rebuild, while not committing to an ability to compete.

The reason Brian Dozier has been tabbed as such a fit for the Dodgers is because they are a couple pieces short of a World Series, and second base appears the most vacant hole. A team like the Dodgers is in a position to give up top prospects to win now. They have up and coming talent, while also being in a position where one or two pieces put them in a contender position. Unfortunately for the Twins, the farm system is non-existent with virtually all prospects of value being at the big league level, and the major league club isn't yet ready to turn the corner.

On his own, Dozier is a luxury for Minnesota at this point. He represents a player that is out of position given the organizational structure. With the new brain trust deciding not to bring in any real firepower, top notch pitching or positional talent, Dozier stands to be a wasted commodity should he remain in the organization.

There's still reason to believe Dozier is moved; obviously the offseason isn't over. That said, if Minnesota decides to hold on him while not bringing in other top tier talent, the reality of some weird purgatory will set in. This team isn't going anywhere this year, and asking Brian Dozier to stick around to witness it while deciding against future plans seems like an odd decision.

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