With Chris Sale now residing in Boston, the biggest name on the trade market is Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. Dozier swatted 42 home runs in 2016, the most ever by an AL second baseman and one short of Davey Johnson's all-time record at the position. Johnson hit 43 with the Braves in 1973.
In addition to that power, Dozier is also on a team-friendly contract -- he's owed $6 million in 2017 and $9 million in 2018 -- so it's easy to understand why he's such a hot commodity this winter. Here's the latest on his trade market:
Dozier update: told LAD still very much in it. Here's the new wrinkle: STL very much in it, + Nats & Giants remain in dialogue. #MNTwins— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) December 26, 2016
The Dodgers have been connected to Dozier more than any other team this winter -- they're reportedly willing to part with right-hander Jose De Leon in a trade -- but both the Giants and Nationals have been linked to him as well. The Cardinals are relatively new to the mix. Let's break down their potential interest.
1. This could all be posturing.
Each offseason, it's important to remember teams negotiate through the media. Reporters run with it because it makes for great #content, fans eat it up because they love the hot stove, and teams try to put themselves in the best possible position. I wasn't at all surprised to see the Giants connected to Dozier given the Dodgers interest, for example. There's a good chance someone is trying to use the rivalry to drive up the price.
So, keep in mind not every report reflects legitimate interest. Some teams are just posturing and trying to create negotiating leverage, so they leak a story that works to their advantage. And when you're discussing a potential trade involving a player of Dozier's caliber, you want to have as much leverage as possible.
2. This also passes the sniff test.
The Cardinals spent big to sign Dexter Fowler and they were linked to Justin Turner before he agreed to re-sign with Los Angeles, so it's not surprisingly to hear they're in on Dozier. St. Louis clearly wants another middle of the order power bat and Dozier qualifies. Their lineup with him could look something like this:
- CF Dexter Fowler
- 2B Brian Dozier
- 1B Matt Carpenter
- RF Stephen Piscotty
- 3B Jedd Gyorko (or Jhonny Peralta)
- SS Aledmys Diaz
- LF Randal Grichuk
- C Yadier Molina
We see plenty of rumors each year that simply don't make sense for whatever reason, usually because the team already has a quality player (or highly paid player) at that position. This is one of those rumors that does make sense. Dozier fits what the Cardinals need.
3. The Cardinals have a logjam at second base.
Right now, the Cardinals have Gyorko penciled in as their starting second baseman with Kolten Wong behind him on the depth chart. Gyorko hit 30 home runs last season but also has a .296 on-base percentage in over 1,800 career at-bats, so he's close to a one-trick pony offensively. Play him every single day and he might get exposed, as the Padres learned from 2014-15.
Wong regressed big time last year, so much so that the Cardinals shipped him to Triple-A and had him spend time in the outfield. So, while the club has some options at second base in Gyorko and Wong, Dozier is a clear upgrade, and would allow the other two to slide into utility roles, which is where they may be best suited at this point of their careers.
4. The Cardinals have the prospects to get a deal done.
Assuming rookie righty Alex Reyes, arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball, is off-limits, the Cardinals still have a healthy prospect base from which to deal. Righties Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty, and outfielder Harrison Bader are among the team's top non-Reyes prospects. I don't think we should rule Wong out as a trade chip as well. St. Louis has the prospect capital to deal. No doubt about it.
The Dodgers certainly have a more glaring need at second base -- their projected starter right now is Enrique Hernandez, who managed a 66 OPS+ in 2016 -- but the Cardinals could use an upgrade at the position as well. And after spending big to sign Fowler, it only makes sense for the Cardinals to keep going and get all the help they need. Dozier is a great fit and their interest is understandable.