Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Bye-bye, Dozier

Brian Dozier walks into the Dodgers dugout for the final
inning of Tuesday's game.
So Brian Dozier is gone, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final hour before the trading deadline.

Of the five deadline deals swung by the Twins -- trades that stripped veterans Dozier, Zack Duke, Eduardo Escobar, Lance Lynn and Ryan Pressly from the roster -- the best "get" came from the Pressly trade, and that's because Pressly was the only one who isn't a two-month rental.

I'm not impressed by what the Twins got for Dozier, and that's not surprising. Remember: The Twins actively peddled Dozier two offseasons ago without pulling the trigger. If the published reports are accurate, the Dodgers made the best offer, and that was pitching prospect Jose De Leon. Had the Twins done that deal, I would have ripped it.

The Dodgers were apparently intent that winter on trading De Leon for the best available second baseman; they settled on Logan Forsythe, then of Tampa Bay. Forsythe didn't hit as well in Los Angeles as he did with the Rays -- no surprise considering the difference between Tropiciana Field and Dodget Stadium as home environments -- and De Leon has pitched a total of 41 innings, majors and minors, since the trade.

And now Forsythe is a Twin. Presumably he'll play second base the rest of the way in Minnesota and then be allowed to join Dozier in the free agent market.

I would not have done this trade were I making the call. Even if, as I expect, Falvine have no interest in an extension with Dozier -- who is 31 and putting up his worst numbers since his rookie season -- I don't think the return justifies ripping out such a key foundation piece in midseason. If this was the best they could get for Dozier, walk away.

There are two possibilities that would sway my opinion:

  • The Twins blew past their allotted payroll with the spring training signings of Lynn and Logan Morrison; it's possible that Falvine were told that if they're going to sell a priority would be getting payroll under budget.
  • It's possible that Dozier told the front office that he'd prefer to be traded to a contender if they were going to sell. (Among the advantages for Dozier: having been traded during the season, his pending free agency cannot be encumbered with a qualifying offer.)
As for the trade itself:

Forsythe I touched on already.  A few months older than Dozier, a higher draft pick, less accomplished. He's a placeholder, included in the deal to keep the Dodgers under the luxury tax and because somebody has to play in the infield in Minnesota and Nick Gordon is flailing at Triple A. Three years from now we'll have pretty much forgotten he ever played with the Twins.

Raley is a left-handed hitting 1B/OF, 23, putting up what appear to be decent numbers in Double A but in what I perceive to be a very good hitting environment. Smeltzer is a left-handed pitcher, 22, putting up what appear to be atrocious numbers in Double A but in what I perceive to be a very good hitting environment. Neither is a particularly well-regarded prospect.

One other point before I get on with my life today: There will be chatter about the Twins mishandling the Dozier "asset." That's nonsense.

I don't know why the rest of MLB didn't properly value Dozier two winters ago, but the Twins got lowballed in trade talks. They kept Dozier; he hit 34 homers, won a Gold Glove and the Twins won a wild-card berth. It was the correct decision.

They were going for it this year and thus didn't attempt to trade him last winter; nobody was surprised by that decision. Even if I don't care for this return, they got more from the Dodgers for two months of Dozier than they were offered by the Dodgers for two years of him in the 2016-2017 offseason.

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