The Twins and second baseman Brian Dozier have not had any in-depth discussions about his contract, which expires after this season. Nor has there been any talk with first baseman Joe Mauer about his expiring deal.
Meanwhile, the big talk around baseball has been the overall stalemate in free agency this offseason.
Eight of the top 15 free agents this offseason, as ranked by MLB.com, remain available, including starting pitchers Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn.
“There’s obviously a few weeks left before spring training gets rolling, and you still have the spring training process before Opening Day so there is still time,” Dozier said recently. “I think you can’t blow this all out of proportion with one offseason, but you want every team to compete and win and put the best players on the field as far as fans.
“That’s how the circle works. But if it continues, it might be a huge, huge problem. But hopefully it doesn’t, and we move on and we get players signed for what they’re worth and we perform for our fans, that’s what it’s all about.”
The story of Dozier’s career is one of being undervalued. He has long been rumored as a trade chip, and one wonders if the Twins are looking at a lot of infield talent in their minor league system and wondering if Dozier is worth the substantial contract he is looking for.
Still, for the past five years, Dozier has been one of the best second basemen in baseball. He garnered AL MVP votes in each of the past three seasons, finishing 11th in voting in 2017 while earning his first Gold Glove.
From 2013 to ’17, Dozier has averaged 29 home runs, 34 doubles, 81 RBI and 99 runs scored, and he has hit .252 with a .798 OPS while playing in an average of 153 games per season.
When asked about his contract, he said it remains a two-way conversation.
“I’m a firm believer that everything kind of takes care of itself,” he said. “You go out there and play. But obviously that’s kind of the writing on the wall heading into spring training. I don’t know.
“It’s a two-sided thing, it’s not one-sided, it’s a two-sided thing. And on our end, my end, you want to make sure we’re dedicated to winning, because I want to be on a winning team for years to come. That’s my main focus. And No. 2 is your comfortability and making sure that’s reciprocated. It’s a two-way street, and we’ll see if something shakes out in spring training.”
There is chatter from both Dozier’s camp and the Twins front office that spring training might be a chance for more direct discussions. For now, Dozier is staying patient.
“You never want to assume. You know what assume stands for,” he said. “But I figure there would be probably some dialogue and we’ll see how it goes. It’s approaching April 1, and it’s getting down to the nitty-gritty, and when that time comes, I’m focused on 2018, none of this other stuff.”
Spotrac, a website that keeps track of athletes’ contracts, lists the best value players in Major League Baseball for 2017. Dozier came in at No. 27 overall, easily the highest-ranking Twins player. Third baseman Miguel Sano was next at No. 46.
Dozier, who made $6 million last year, landed between Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner and Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.
Spotrac compared player production with contracts to determine total player value, and it’s clear Dozier is a bargain for the Twins.
When it comes to being on a winning team, Dozier thinks the Twins offense is in prime position to continue being one of the best in baseball, especially since the lineup seems to be set heading into the season, a far cry from other years.
“I think our position players is pretty much set,” he said. “I think what makes everything go — because everyone likes to talk about Sano at third and DH some and Joe at first and DH some and rotate some — but what makes all of that go, I think, is our wild card, Eduardo Escobar, who can play the third base, the shortstop, the second, the DH, occasional outfield, he makes this position player thing flow.
“But I think 1-9 position playerwise we’re set, and pretty dangerous.”
It will be interesting to see how the beginning of the season starts out for the Twins, though. Sano might be facing a suspension for an alleged assault from 2016, and righthander Ervin Santana will miss some time following finger surgery.
Dozier said he has heard all about the Twins targeting some high-end pitchers on the free-agent market.
“I faced Arrieta just once and Darvish multiple times and they’re elite pitchers, front-line guys, which are hard to come by,” Dozier said. “Everyone likes to throw out the term ‘front-line starter,’ and there’s a handful, probably less than 10 in my opinion that are really front-line starters, and those two guys are.
“They carry your staff deep into ballgames. They bring relief to the relief pitchers. They’re exceptional. I know we’re trying to go after them and I don’t blame them, because they are really good. I hope they’re on our team and it gets shaked out and get some of these guys signed.”
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