Potential Suitors for Brian Dozier
Image courtesy of © Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY SportsI get that there is still somewhat of an ongoing debate about whether or not it is the best decision for the Twins to move Dozier at the deadline or wait until this winter and give him a qualifying offer. While I agree that both sides of the debate are still up for discussion that is not the point of this article. Instead, we will be looking into which teams have the most to gain by adding Brian Dozier to their roster before the deadline to try and assess what kind of value Dozier might have.
Boston Red Sox
For the past decade, the Boston Red Sox have been a team with very little concern about second base with Dustin Pedroia manning the position. However, with the combination of age and injury, question marks have started to arise for the Red Sox at second. Pedroia has played just three games all season and is currently on the disabled-list with no clear timetable for his return.
With Pedroia out, the Red Sox have used a combination of Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt at second. Nunez is coming off a couple of okay years in 2016 and 2017 (combined 5.1 fWAR), but has been absolutely dreadful this season to the tune of a -0.4 fWAR. On the other hand, Holt has been a better option for the Red Sox at second, but his best attribute to the team is as a utility man so he isn’t exactly their full-time answer for second base.
With Dozier on the team, he provides an immediate upgrade over Nunez. He also brings a lot more upside than does Holt, who has just a career 4.3 fWAR spread across seven Major League seasons.
Los Angeles Dodgers
If there is a contending team that would see the biggest upgrade at the second base position by adding Brian Dozier, it is the Los Angeles Dodgers. A couple of years ago the Dodgers were linked as the team with the most interest in trading for Brian Dozier, but those talks inevitably feel through as the Dodgers decided to go for Logan Forsythe instead.
That move hasn’t panned out too well for them, as Forsythe had an okay season last year, but has been terrible in Dodger blue this year with a .202/.260/.301 slash line to go along with just two home runs, good for a 54 wRC+ (100 being league average). The other main option for the Dodgers at second base has been an aging Chase Utley. Much like Forsythe, Utley has had a down year at the plate with an OPS of .621 and a wRC+ of 71.
Combined the Dodgers have received -0.6 fWAR at the second base position in 2018, which ranks 28th in all of baseball. By comparison, Brian Dozier has been worth 1.0 fWAR this season and is on pace for a league average season despite how poorly it seems like he has played. That alone would be a big upgrade for the Dodgers.
Another contending team that could use an upgrade at second base is the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers improved on an 86-win team from a year ago with the additions of Lornezo Cain and Christian Yelich, along with the breakout performances from Josh Hader and Jesus Aguilar. However, one area where the Brewers could use some help is in the middle-infield.
Coming off a strong season in 2016, Jonathan Villar has been nothing but a disappointment over the last two years. This year Villar is hitting .265/.312/.388 with six home runs. He also has just 13 stolen bases this year, so the additional production he has brought on the base paths has been limited.
The Brewers have also tried out Hernan Perez and the recently DFA’d Eric Sogard at second base, but neither has given them much production. With the Brewers squarely in the middle of a divisional race with the Chicago Cubs, they will almost certainly be looking to upgrade one of their weakest areas on the team.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants made a statement this winter that they wanted to compete in 2018 with the additions of Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. Even though things havenot gone exactly as planned with their pitching staff, the Giants find themselves at 48-45 and just three games out in the NL West and four games back of the second NL Wild Card position.
Joe Panik has served as the team’s second baseman since their World Series run in 2014 but has dealt with some injuries this year. Panik missed all of May after having surgery on his left thumb and was just placed back on the DL on Saturday with a groin injury. Even when Panik has been healthy, he has struggled his way to a .654 OPS.
With an organization that clearly has a mind set on winning now, and a team that is very much in the hunt, it would not be a surprise if the Giants look for a short-term answer at second base as they try to continue their push back into the postseason.
Other Available Second Basemen
Now that we have established that there will be a market for second basemen at the trade deadline, the other thing to consider is what other second basemen are available for teams to choose from. Unfortunately for the Twins, the list of seemingly available second basemen is pretty strong.
Scooter Gennett – The Cincinnati Reds second basemen has been one of the better players at that position in major league baseball over the past couple of seasons. So far this year Scooter Genett has a .322/.366/.509 slash line with 14 home runs, and ranks fifth among all second basemen with a 2.9 fWAR. Gennett is under control through 2019, but with the Reds being unlikely to compete next season they should be looking to move him now to maximize his value.
Jed Lowrie – The A’s have exceeded many people’s expectations this year, and a big part of that has been the play from Jed Lowrie, whose 3.3 fWAR ranks second among all MLB second basemen. The A’s have gotten hot of late and pulled within six games of the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot. If the A’s can stay hot over the next few weeks that will be great news for the Twins as they will look to be buyers instead of sellers at the deadline, thus taking Lowrie off the market.
Starlin Castro – Another second baseman who could be on the move by the end of this month is Starlin Castro. If nothing else, the salary conscious Marlins will be looking to get his contract off their books. Despite being in his eighth MLB season, Castro still is only 28 and under control for $11 million in 2019 with a team option of $16 million in 2020 ($1 million buyout). For every team except the Marlins this is a pretty affordable contract for a player who is still producing at a quality level.
Given these circumstances, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to wait until right up before the deadline before Brian Dozier is traded away (if he does get traded). I think buying teams will be waiting to see what happens with Scooter Gennett and Jed Lowrie before they make a move on Brian Dozier. I also think the Twins might hold off on Dozier as long as they can, hoping he might get on one of his patented hot streaks and increase his trade value before the deadline.