Things have changed after a 2017 season that saw the Twins win 85 games and make the playoffs for the first time in seven years. With Derek Falvey and Thad Levine preaching long-term, sustainable, championship caliber team as the goal, what will they attempt to do with Brian Dozier this offseason?
To trade, or to sign to a long-term contract? That is the question.Yesterday, Brian Dozier was named the 2017 Twins MVP for the third straight year. He’s coming off of another big season.
With the team’s success in 2017, the idea of trading Brian Dozier would not go over well with the fan base. That, however, is not the ultimate concern for the front office, though it certain will be a factor. However, when the Twins were unable to acquire a sufficient package for Dozier after his 42 home run season, with two more years left on his contract, it’s hard to believe they would get a better offer for one season of Dozier.
If that is the case, then the discussion has to turn to whether or not they should consider attempt to sign him to another long-term contract or let him become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season. Dozier, who turned 30 in May, has averaged 4.5 bWAR and 4.25 fWAR over his five full big league seasons. Over the last two seasons, he’s been worth approximately 5.5 WAR.
In my opinion, an attempt should be made, or at least a conversation should be held regarding an extension for Brian Dozier. So, I thought I’d consider what a long-term extension for Brian Dozier might look like. To do so, I had to look at some of the great second basemen in baseball that have signed in the recent past.
Jose Altuve - The Astros wisely locked in Altuve before the 2014 season. He signed a four year, $12.5 million contract with two option seasons. Assuming the Astros don’t tear up that deal, his option seasons of $6 million and $6.5 million for 2018 and 2019 will be picked up. There is nothing in that deal to compare to Dozier.
A quick look and we’ll see that the four year, $20 million deal gave him deals that lined up nearly identically with the contracts signed at that same time in the careers of Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Ian Kinsler and Robinson Cano.
Starting in 2015, Dozier’s annual salaries have been or will be $2 million, $3 million, $6 million and $9 million.
- Dustin Pedroia got $1.5 million in 2009, followed by salaries of $3.5 million, $5.5 million, $8 million and then $10 million.
- Jason Kipnis’s deal started in 2014 and provided salaries of $2 million, $4 million, $6 million and $9 million.
- Ian Kinslers deal, starting in 2009, gave him salaries of $3 million, $4 million, $6 million and $7 million.
- Robinson Cano’s deal started in 2008, and he got $3 million, $6 million, $9 million and $10 million (though it started a year later). He also had $14 million and $15 million options picked up in 2012 and 2013.
- Rougned Odor signed a deal that started in 2017 in which he got $1 million, $3 million, $7.5 million, $9 million, $12 million, $12 million and an option for $13.5 million in 2023.
Understanding that Dozier’s deal lined up so closely with so many quality second baseman, it is clear that the next step for us is to look at what type of contract each of those players got following their initial deal. How much did their post-free agent-eligible years cost. Here’s the quick rundown.
- Dustin Pedroia - The Red Sox second baseman jumped to $12.5 million in 2014, and then was paid $12.5 million, $13.0 million and $15.0 million in the three years since. He still has four years remaining on his contract with salaries of $16 million, $15 million, $13 million and $12 million in 2021 (age 37).
- Jason Kipnis - Cleveland paid Kipnis $9 million in 2017. He will make $13.5 million in 2018, $14.5 million in 2019 and he has an option for $16.5 million in 2020 (age 33 season) with a $2.5 million buyout.
- Ian Kinsler - The Tigers second baseman signed his deal back in 2013 while with the Rangers. He made $13 million in 2013, $16 million in 2014 and 2015, $14 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017. He has a $10 million option for 2018, his age 36 season, with a $5 million buyout. (It was also a vesting option and because he got over 600 plate appearances in 2017, it was picked up.)
- Robinson Cano had his options for 2014 and 2015 picked up for a combined $29 million. Of course, he then became a 30-year-old free agent and signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners.
Brian Dozier is set to make $9 million in 2018. Using those other contracts as a baseline, here is what I would think a potentially realistic extension for Dozier could look like:
2015 - $2 million
2016 - $3 million
2017 - $6 million
2018 - $9 million (unchanged)
Signing bonus - $3.5 million (paid in 2018)
2019 - Age 32 - $14.0 million
2020 - Age 33 - $14.5 million
2021 - Age 34 - $15.0 million
2022 - Age 35 - $14.0 million
2023 - Age 36 - $12.0 million (option with a $4 million buyout, which would vest with 600 PA in 2022.)
If that is the deal, we are looking at a 4 year, $65 million with an option that could make it a five year, $73 million deal.
2024 would be Dozier’s Age 37 season, so it is likely that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine would prefer a contract extension be more in the three or four year range, maybe even if that means a higher annual salary. They could get creative and put a couple of options on the end of it. They may want to give Jorge Polanco and Nick Gordon another year to develop to see what a lineup without Brian Dozier in it looks like for 2019. Also, understanding that they may need to sign some long-term deals in the not-too-distant future with some of the youngsters, they may be more willing to frontload a contract.
Dozier is one year from free agency. If he gets there, and stays healthy, there should be a good market for him. Maybe that would allow him to make a little bit more. At the same time, as a free agent entering his age-32 season, he may not receive more than four year contract offers… or he could get six years.
With all of that at your fingertips, what would you do as it relates to Brian Dozier? Still look to trade him? Let 2018 play out. He’ll become a free agent, and take your chances then. Or, should they spend the offseason discussing a long-term extension to keep him as a leader of the Twins for the foreseeable future?
COMING SOON! A reminder, Nick Nelson is leading the way in the final steps of creating the Twins Daily Annual Offseason Handbook. Keep checking back next week for many more details. As we have in the past, we'll take a look at what options the Twins may have during the upcoming offseason. Trade Targets. Free Agents. Exclusive articles from the Twins Daily owners only available in the electronic book. Definitely something Twins fans will want at their fingertips.
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