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The Rising Cost of Brian Dozier

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On last week's episode of Talk to Contact, Darren "Doogie" Wolfson spent some time with us discussing the possibility of a Brian Dozier contract extension. He mentioned that Dozier's agent has already approached the Twins about this possibility. By the end of the interview, he said he wouldn't be surprised if Dozier has a new contract in place by the end of spring training next year.

From the perspective of the Twins front office, there might not be a reason to be in a rush with Dozier. He didn't make his big league debut until the age of 24. His first year of arbitration eligibility is 2016 and he can't be a free agent until 2019. Dozier would be 31-years old before he hit the free agent market and a lot can happen to a player over the course of multiple seasons.

On the other hand, Minnesota might want to lock-up Dozier before he gets to arbitration because of the way he has played since the second half of last season. Dozier's power swing really showed up in the last year's second half. He slashed .253/.313/.443 with 10 home runs and 18 doubles. His batting average is never going to be the prettiest (he's a career .240 hitter) but his combination of stellar defense and base running ability make him very valuable.

A hot start from Dozier in 2014 could mean his cost is starting to rise. He already has nine home runs to his name and his 34 runs scored leads the American League. The addition of Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor to the coaching staff must also be helping Dozier. One of Molitor's duties is base running coach and Dozier is closing in on a career high in steals. He collected 14 steals a season ago and he already has 12 in 2014.

So what could a Dozier extension look like in the next year?

A starting point for the Twins and Dozier could be the deal signed by Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko was drafted a year after Dozier and he made his debut on roughly the same timeline. Even though he was still arbitration eligible, the Padres inked him to a 5-year, $35 million contract, which includes a team option for a sixth year. This could mean Gyorko is in San Diego through 2020.

Another second baseman to sign a recent contract extension was Jason Kipnis. Like Dozier, he was drafted in 2009 but he made his debut a year earlier. He also has an All-Star appearance to his name and he was closer to free agency by a year. The Indians gave Kipnis a 6-year, $52.5 million deal with a team option for 2020.

Looking at these two deals I would put Dozier somewhere in the middle of these two players. The Twins should offer Dozier a 5-year deal for around $40 million with a team option for a sixth year. His average salary would be less than Kipnis and higher than Gyorko. I could see it going a little higher than $40 million but not too much higher. This deal would lock up Dozier through his arbitration years and push back his free agent years.

Comments

  1. TKGuy's Avatar
    Gyorko is hitting about as well as Pedro Florimon right now. While Dozier's average is not quite where I'd like it, I believe I've seen enough to state that Dozier is part of the Twins future resurgence. Despite the average he leads the league in runs, already has 12 stolen bases and his defense has been phenomenal. I wouldn't even mind giving Dozier the Kipnis deal at this point. He is the only player that I see right now that is deserving of an extension.
  2. DuluthFan's Avatar
    I think your math might be off. Try running some numbers for his arbitration years before throwing numbers out there.

    2015 Under team control next year. $550k est.
    2016 1st year arbitration. $2-3 million (Plouffe got $2M+)
    2017 2nd year arbitration. ?
    2018 3rd year arbitration. ?
    2019 1st Year Free Agent ??

    Now to come up with the rest of your $40M contract, 2017-1019 he is going to average $12M per year? If he goes to his 2nd year of arbitration, what will he get? Maybe $6-8M? The last two years of that contract will be one ugly mess. This is the kind of contract that could cripple a team on a budget if he regresses or gets injured.

    If you argue that it is only an average $8M per year, look at how much you are overpaying in the first year. When your attendance revenue is still down. When you could use that extra $7M towards another player. When you could possibly pay him significantly less over that same period by going year to year with no risk of losing him until the final year when he will be 31.

    I would recommend waiting to offer a long term contract until after arbitration numbers are exchanged, preferably during the second year of his eligibility. At that point you will have a feeling for what he will be looking for long term because he will have submitted an offer of what he wants. You will also have seen him play 3-4 years at the major league level.
  3. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
    I think we've talked about this a couple times before, but I still think waiting to make a long-term deal with Dozier is the right move. Locking him up for 5 years might seem advantageous, but I don't know that you need to do that now, before he's even reached arbitration. As you noted, he's not going to hit the FA market until 31 and there is plenty of room for regression (or maybe even progression!) between now and then, and plenty of time to secure his services if he continues to play like a stud. It might cost the Twins an extra million or two (per season) by waiting, but giving him 35mill guaranteed seems much riskier than waiting it out at least for another 9 months.
  4. pierre75275's Avatar
    If the twins sign him to an extension, i dont think it will be this year and if they do sign him they need to get 2 of his free agent years locked up. Otherwise I really dont see the benefit. But if he has another good year I really think they should sign him up
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