Should the Twins Extend Brian Dozier?
Posted by Andrew Thares , 25 January 2018 · 4,200 views
rounding third brian dozier
There is no question that Brian Dozier has been the best player on the Minnesota Twins for the past four seasons. Over that stretch, Dozier’s 18.8 fWAR ranks 18th in Major League Baseball, and is 2nd among second basemen. His early success lead the Twins front office to give him a 4-year, $20MM deal to buy out his arbitration eligible years. This has proved to be an extremely team friendly deal, but now that the Twins are a team that is finally back in playoff contention, they just might be in danger of losing their best player.
Dozier has expressed interest in returning to the Twins after 2018, but it doesn’t appear that the Twins have approached him yet this offseason about a potential extension. So, the question to ask is, should they?
Probably the most important factor in this decision will be cost. How much money will they need to spend, and how many years will they need to offer in order to entice Dozier away from entering free agency next offseason. Dozier has drastically increased his market value after back-to-back career years. This means that the Twins won’t be able to sign him for pennies on the dollar this time around. When trying to estimate the contract that Dozier’s agent will be asking for, the best place to start is by looking at contracts that other elite level second basemen have gotten in recent years. The three players that make the most sense to look at are Robinson Cano, Daniel Murphy and Ben Zobrist. Here are the details of their contracts.
For a little comparison, Brian Dozier will be entering his age 31 season this year, and had a 5.0 fWAR last season, and a 14.2 fWAR over the previous three. Given these factors, and adding in a couple years of baseball inflation, we can assume that Dozier will get a contract somewhere in between the Cano and Zobrist contracts. In terms of years, I would expect that the it will be a lot closer to the four years Zobrist got, than the ten years Cano received. It would most likely be a deal that would extend either four or five seasons past Dozier’s current contract. Even though it has been four years since Robinson Cano signed his deal, I do not see Dozier receiving an offer that approaches Cano’s in terms of Average Annual Value, as Cano was an MVP level player for five seasons before signing his contract with the Mariners. Given this, I am predicting that Dozier will sign for somewhere in the $19M-$21M per year range.
Now that we have a ballpark idea of what it might take to sign Brian Dozier to an extension, we now must figure out if it would make sense for the Twins to sign him to that extension. As with most big decisions, it is often works well to look at the pros and cons of the decision, so that is what we will do.
The first pro to extending Dozier, is it will secure the Twins organizational depth in the middle infield. The reason that this is important is two-fold. While players like Royce Lewis, Nick Gordon, Wander Javier and even Jorge Polanco all have a lot of potential, they still have big question marks attached to them. For a team like the Twins, who is ready to compete now, having a player like Dozier, who has a much higher floor over the next few seasons will be very important. The other reason why Dozier securing depth in the middle infield is important is, it gives the front office more flexibility with their personal decisions. With second base taken care of for the foreseeable future, they can be more aggressive with their prospects in the trade market for a big time starting pitcher, like Chris Archer. Also, with the future of third base in doubt after 2018, the Twins could also use their depth in the middle infield to fill this hole, potentially with Dozier sliding over to third himself.
Another benefit of keeping Dozier around is his leadership presence in the clubhouse. With an inexperienced team like the Twins, having veteran leader for the young players is paramount.
The final benefit of extending Dozier now is the Twins will have exclusive negotiating rights with him. If the Twins want to bring Dozier back, their best bet might be by not exposing him to the other 29 teams in free agency.
Without question, the biggest con in extending Dozier would be the financial commitment the Twins would have to make to him. If the Twins were to sign him, the total value of the contract would be roughly in the $100MM range. If the Twins were to make that investment it would take away from their ability to go out and sign a top tier starting pitcher that is of desperate need. Another potential problem with locking up that much money in one player is, if they suffer an injury, or their game were to suddenly go away, the Twins would be stuck with a lot of dead money on their books. With Dozier now on the wrong side of 30, both of those are possibilities, despite his track record of health and consistent performance.
A final motive to consider is baring an awful 2018 for Dozier, the Twins will make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season. So even if he does sign with a different organization, the Twins will receive a draft pick between Rounds 1 and 2 in the 2019 Draft as compensation.
With all things considered, it is a bit surprising that the Twins haven’t at least approached Dozier or his agent about an extension this winter. Even if they are leaning towards not bringing him back, it would still be worth getting the conversation started to see what Dozier wants.
I am interested to see what everyone has to say on this. Do you think that the Twins should offer Brian Dozier a contract extension, or should they let him play just play out this season and see where the chips fall in free agency?
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