Possible Trade Target: Brian Dozier

In our “Who starts at second base” post from this weekend, we pointed out that one of the options is to acquire a starting second baseman via trade. Let’s now take a look at a player that could easily be a target of the Pirates—Twins power-hitting second baseman Brian Dozier.

First, let’s talk about Dozier. The 29-year-old had a career year this summer, belting 42 home runs along with 35 doubles on rout to a season in which he slugged .546. He tied with Nolan Arenado for third in MLB in extra-base hits (82) and ranked third in the AL in homers. His entire slash line was solid at .268/.340/.546 for an .886 OPS. Dozier made Twins history becoming the first second baseman in franchise history to hit 40+ home runs and is just the fourth second baseman ever to hit 40 or more homers, joining a list that includes Ryne Sandberg, Rogers Hornsby and Davey Johnson. Two Hall of Famers and a four-time All-Star. While Dozier’s numbers across the board spiked this season, he’s always shown power throughout his career, hitting 18, 23 and 28 dingers the past three seasons and now has four-straight seasons of 30+ doubles as well. Unlike Travis Snider, this guy is actually “dripping with power.” There’s no guarantee he’ll reach a 40-HR season again like 2016, but if he hits 30+ from second base for a couple years with a .240-.250 average, who wouldn’t take that? Dozier also hit half of his home runs at spacious Target Field, which is no joke, and pulled most of his HRs to left field, which PNC Park’s short LF pole of 325′ to the rotunda could be nice for him.

He’s not just a hitter either, Dozier provided a solid glove at second with a 0.8 dWAR at the position and a +3 defensive runs saved in 2016 and a +7 mark in his career at second. Overall, he put together a 6.5 WAR this past season and has 18.4 in his career. He’s signed through 2018 and is completely affordable (even by Pirates standards) at $6M next year and $9M in 2018. He’s dependable as well, playing in an average of 154 games since 2013 and provides nice speed with 51 stolen bases in the past three seasons. He walked at a decent 8.8% rate, struck out 20% of the time, but not at a crippling rate like other power hitters. Dozier is affordable, dependable, speedy, has elite power and is in the prime of his career.

Now let’s discuss why it makes sense for both teams. Dozier was a bright spot on an otherwise pitiful Twins team. Their pitching staff was historically bad as the Twins stumbled to a 103-loss season that saw longtime GM Terry Ryan fired before the trade deadline. The Twins have very little in terms of pitching prospects and their number one prospect Jose Berrios had an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts. So it’s not hard to figure out the possible match here—what do the Twins desperately need? Pitching. What do the Pirates need for the middle of their OBP-based lineup? Power. What do the Pirates have an abundance of currently? Pitching. The Pirates were 12th in the National League with 153 home runs, 20+ homers fewer than league average. After watching a lineup get on-base at the third best clip in the NL and continue to leave guys on base in big spots, imagine what a boost a potential 30-40 HR guy in the middle of the lineup would be.

Dozier is signed through two more seasons and with the current rotation the Twins employ, they won’t be competing in two years. Dozier is coming off a career year and Minnesota needs talent elsewhere, so trading Dozier for other pieces is the new GM’s best move this offseason.

So what do you give up exactly? If the Pirates could trade Chad Kuhl and/or one of the higher end pitching prospects like Mitch Keller and another mid-level prospect, I think you make that deal. Problem is, what if the Twins ask for Tyler Glasnow or Jameson Taillon? While I have an issue trading either for just two years of Dozier, if the Pirates acquire a top-to-middle of the rotation pitcher back, it might make a Taillon for Dozier deal a little easier to swallow. We have no way of knowing what the Twins would ask for or what the price tag for Dozier around the league would be, but would you trade Taillon or Kuhl/Keller for Dozier? At the very least, it’s worth a phone call to the Twins.

32 thoughts on “Possible Trade Target: Brian Dozier

  1. There is NO way you can trade 5+ yrs of Kuhl/Keller or Taillon for 2 yrs of Dozier. We need MORE pitching not another 2B. We could only begin thinking about that deal IF we can find a taker for JHay.

    1. All good points. Meanwhile someone replied on Twitter saying they the asking price for Dozier would cost a fortune. We don’t know what the asking price for would be since Dozier is controlled for two more years, but it’s worth a discussion. Especially if a McCutchen trade happens this offseason for a SP, which is increasingly becoming a real possibility.

  2. I think it would take Glasnow and Keller to pry Dozier from Minnesota. The Twins won’t part with Dozier unless someone over pays.

    1. Twins are going nowhere in the next two years and that’s all Dozier is signed for though. Bucs wouldn’t give up both Glasnow and Keller for two years or Dozier. I think Twins would be happy with one legit starter and a low-level prospect. Their pitching is awful.

      1. I’m a Twins fan, and he is absolutely right. It is going to take Glasnow or Taillon, plus 1 or 2 more lower-level prospects, to get Dozier.

        Twins aren’t inclined to move him, and if you are talking just Kuhl and Keller, they’d be just as well off fast-tracking their own prospects (Gonsalves, Stewart, Tyler Jay….look them up).

        We’re not *as* desperate for pitching prospects as you seem to think. I.E., we’re not going to take peanuts for a power in his prime with a team-friendly contract….sorry.

        1. You’re right and I’m very aware of Stewart, Jay, Berrios, but here’s a question…when was the last time the Twins developed one of their own pitching prospects?

          1. That’s a fair point, but it’s still going to take more than Kuhl and Keller.

            If that trade offer doesn’t start with either Glasnow or Taillon, the Twins won’t do it. There are already reports that the Twins aren’t inclined to trade Dozier at all (take from that what you will, given that we don’t currently have a GM….). So, if he is dealt, they will need a big yield, and there are teams that will offer a top-20 or at least top-40 arm to do it.

            I’d do Plouffe for Kuhl straight up, however.

          2. Plouffe will be released instead of picking up the likely 8 million dollar arbitration salary.

          3. Possibly, unless the Twins think they can arrange a trade for him.

          4. I think you’re right though that the trade would start and end with either Taillon or Glasnow and I’m not sure the Pirates would pull the trigger.

          5. ^^^And honestly, I’m not sure I would blame the Pirates for not pulling the trigger.

            But hopefully we do get a deal something like that from somebody…

  3. I could see the Twins getting better hauls from another team. NH is notorious for not giving up his babies. Taillon would be a big mistake, he is soon to take over Coles spot as the ace of this team. Remember Cole is not going to sign here.

  4. As a Twins fan, I like Keller a lot. He’s from Cedar Rapids, IA, which is where the Twins Low A team plays and is only a few hours from Target field. Too bad you traded Reece McGuire in the Liriano deal. The Twins need help behind the plate almost as much as they need pitching.

    1. Good call. Do you like Elias Diaz? He’s another prospect catcher of the Pirates and we have Cervelli and Stewart locked up for a couple years.

  5. Williams, Brault, Alan Hanson, Jaso for Dozier. 2 great pitching prospects, Hanson to take over for Dozier, Jaso to save a few bucks and fill a utility role for them. Harrison returns to super utility, with he, Freese, Frazier, Stewart on the bench. We’re getting Kingham, Cumpton, and Sadler back, so losing the two pitchers shouldn’t hurt much.

    1. Twins fan here, we already have Dozier replacement up with the he big club so don’t need or want a 2B in return. Starting Pitcher, Catcher, and SS are needs. Lots of youth covering the other spots.

    2. The Twins replacement at 2B is already on the team (Jorge Polanco).

      They will want starting pitching first. MLB-ready Catcher or Shortstop a distant second.

      If I was them the conversation would start and stop with Glasnow or Taillon. Keller is a nice prospect for a team to have, but they’ll be looking for a frontline guy, and one who is ready for the majors. I do imagine if it was one of those two in a trade, there would also be more to it in prospects from the Twins or both sides.

  6. “What do the Pirates have an abundance of currently? Pitching.”

    It’s difficult for me not to view this as a joke. My mind tells me that no one could believe this, but my gut is that you absolutely do believe it. You have things completely backwards. Dozier wouldn’t have gotten this team to the playoffs this year-not even close. Decent pitching would have.

    1. The meaning behind the “abundance of pitching” relates to the prospects we hold. If, and it seems likely, the Twins were to target pitching prospects then that would be right in our wheelhouse.

  7. As a twins fan I always assumed a deal for Taillon would never be offered from the pirates. I could almost see Glasnow being offered but I am not holding my breath. I do think a Keller led deal would be good, with another prospect or two added. If that happens, good deal for both sides.

    1. It might not be and I’m not even sure the Pirates are interested in Dozier, but I think they should be. I would be down with Keller and a prospect for him.

        1. Great Steves think alike 🙂

          Glasnow or Taillon to lead it, or it won’t happen. Guaranteed.

  8. Twins fan here. Looking at recent trades, Dozier fits somewhere in the Howie Kendrick-Dee Gordon-Justin Upton-Jason Heyward-Carlos Gomez-Jonathan Lucroy continuum, which suggests a pretty strong return headlined by either a top-20ish prospect or a young, average-ish starter with upside, and supported by another top-100 prospect.

    Trying to be objective, Glasnow or Taillon feels like too much. Similarly, the rest of the Pirates pitching prospects aren’t enough. What do you anticipate the Pirates’ payroll situation to be? One idea suggested on the Twins side has been to package Dozier with Ervin Santana which may make it more palatable for teams to give up pitching. But Santana isn’t terribly cheap – $13.5M for next two seasons.

    1. Santana is an intriguing option because the Pirates are likely to sign a SP or two this offseason, but the SP market is thin. I’m assuming their payroll will be around $110M so they have a little bit to spend ($20M). I wonder if the Twins would discuss Chad Kuhl or Steven Brault in a deal instead of Taillon and Glasnow because I agree Glasnow or Taillon feels like too much for two years of Dozier.

      A lot of this hinges on if McCutchen is dealt this offseason for a SP as well.

      1. If the Twins sent Dozier and Santana to the Pirates, maybe even helping out with the contracts (to the tune of 3 or 4 mil), then I could see Glasnow (or Taillon), plus Keller, and either two other pitching prospect, or Kuhl and one.

        Additionally, if the Twins sent Dozier and Santana to the Pirates, and got Cervelli and Glasnow out of it (no money switching hands), plus some combo of Kuhl/Keller/one more pitching prospect, it could work.

  9. With all due respect, as a Twins fan, a deal starts or ends with Taillon or Glasnow. These other trade suggestions are trading a 3rd or 4th starter for a 40hr 2b baseman. The Twins offense would be in the bottom 3rd of the AL without Dozier, at that point they might as well keep him or better yet get a legit offer. I get the stance you are taking, but these trade suggestions should get the new GM fired if he agreed to it.

  10. As a Twins fan, and someone who knows how this team operates, if they trade Dozier they will need Tallion or Glasnow. Dozier is the face of the franchise right now and the Twins love him. Trading him, no matter what the haul will anger casual fans here, which after the worst season in the history of the team, is not something the ownership is trying to do. They let Torii Hunter go back in the day and people here are still pissed about that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers came knocking with De Leon on the table, we would (and should) pick up the phone. As for developing pitching, Falvey will overhaul everything about the Twins development process and bring it up to speed with the rest of the league.

    1. Right. I think Taillon or Glasnow would have to be part of it as well. And I’m not sure the Pirates would pull the trigger on it.

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