(Photo Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)
While the Hot Stove season seemed to begin with a somewhat steamy start at the general managers meetings in Scottsdale last week, many rumors surrounding the Dodgers have since settled to whispers, as the club could be waiting on news regarding Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen before creating a game plan for the remainder of the roster.
One intriguing chunk of gossip that appeared to have a bit of momentum early was the club’s interest in Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier. The 29-year-old Tupelo native is coming off his best campaign in the bigs, and there’s no question he could make a difference in the Dodgers’ power department, an area of production that has been lacking consistency for the past several seasons.
In 2016, Dozier slashed .268/.340/.546 with 42 home runs, 35 doubles, 99 RBI and 104 runs scored in 155 games played. He also stole 18 bases for the Twins while being caught only twice, an aspect of the game which the Dodgers are certainly lacking. While the Los Angeles offense was seemingly victimized by southpaw pitching last season, Dozier hit .282/.352/.613 with 11 home runs and 21 RBI in 159 plate appearances against leftys last year — numbers that the Dodgers would certainly welcome.
Dozier’s defense isn’t exactly categorized as elite, but his glove work isn’t ranked poorly by any means. His average range probably prevents him from appearing on the nightly web gem reel, and his UZR doesn’t indicate a defender of gold glove value. However, his runs saved numbers have dramatically improved recently, and his ability to handle the duties at shortstop if needed certainly add to his overall worth.
Many fans of the Dodgers have already put Dozier under a microscope, citing his 2016 offensive efforts as a fluke when pointing out his career .240 batting average prior to last season. Despite the low average, though, his OBP has improved significantly in recent years, and a BABIP lingering in the mid-.260 range from 2013-15 could indicate a large amount of simple bad luck. After a tremendously slow start last spring, Dozier’s second half numbers suggest he’s finally starting to mature and understand the art of hitting.
“You have to figure out what type of player you are — what type of hitter you are,” Dozier said just after the 2016 All-Star break. “I’ve learned that once you find it, you stick with it. You can try to make adjustments throughout your career, but you should never lose sight of your strengths.”
So what would Minnesota demand from the Dodgers in a trade for a relatively young, power-hitting second baseman who can mash left-handed pitching and has an extremely team-friendly contract?
Much of the early fan-based speculation around Dodgertown featured many conversations regarding outfielder Yasiel Puig, but it’s tough to imagine the Dodgers parting ways with Puig, especially considering the team’s weakness against lefty pitching. Jose De Leon‘s name has been mentioned hypothetically, representing a piece which has a very high ceiling in the future, but could conceivably be expendable if Los Angeles upgrades the rotation with a top-tier arm.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of the farm and prefer building from within, but I really like what Dozier brings to the table, and being a club with even higher playoff aspirations in 2017, the Dodgers simply do not have the internal options at the keystone to elevate them to a championship level. I’m thinking at a minimum, the Twins ask for a package featuring somebody of the caliber of De León, along with one or two unprovens, like Willie Calhoun or Alex Verdugo, for example. Even an offering of that degree still might not get the job done, but it gives Los Angeles fans an idea of what other clubs are demanding from the Dodgers’ front office these days, especially when it comes to inquiring about very solid players with exceptionally economical contracts.
As far as the remainder of the roster is concerned, things may get very crazy over the next three months as the Dodgers’ management crew begins to execute a plan which they hope produces a championship roster in 2017.