Two years ago, Brian Dozier gave up fried food, “and that’s tough in the south,” the Mississippi native said. This winter, he gave up red meat, which was even harder. But there’s a good reason for it, he said.
“I’m getting younger, baby,” he joked. “I’m still five years from starting my prime.”
That part might be debatable, but this is not. Dozier, 30, insists he wants to spend those five years in Minnesota, and he wishes the Twins would express the same sentiment. Say, with a new long-term contract.
“I think about it. It’s been said enough that I want to be here. You just want it to be reciprocated,” said the Twins second baseman and back-to-back team MVP. “But if it’s not … oh, well.”
Dozier signed a four-year contract extension during spring training in 2015, a deal that expires in November after paying him $9 million for the 2018 season. Considering he has made an All-Star team, won a Gold Glove, received AL MVP votes for three consecutive seasons and hit 23 or more home runs in each of the past four years, he is considerably underpaid by MLB standards.
So yes, he has considered what his upcoming free agency might mean.
“I’ve had a lot of talks with guys about approaching free agency and how to handle it,” Dozier said. “I don’t want to get too caught up in it, but it is the writing on the wall and the elephant in the room.”
The Twins haven’t approached him about an extension, though, and Dozier admits to being slightly surprised. He’s definitely willing to listen.
But his team hasn’t decided yet whether to make the call.
“Sometimes there are good reasons to talk about it beforehand, and there are good reasons sometimes to leave it for the end of the year,” said Derek Falvey, Twins chief baseball officer. “Ultimately, we might agree that [an extension] is the right step to take. But internally, we haven’t had that dialogue yet.”
Whether or not it happens, Dozier insists he’s not going to let it affect his season. If he leads the Twins in home runs for a sixth consecutive season, and helps them keep improving, he’s sure it’ll pay off — from the team that drafted him in 2009 or some other — next winter, he said.
“I don’t want to overshadow all that by saying [his contract] is an issue,” Dozier said.
Move in the future?
Moving TwinsFest up by a week in order to accommodate Super Bowl preparations in Minneapolis had no affect on attendance, the Twins said Sunday. More than 14,000 fans attended the three-day event at Target Field, up slightly from the 2017 version.
But far more fans might be able to attend next year, if the Twins’ plans for the annual fundraiser for their Community Fund come to fruition. While the ballpark location enables fans to tour the team’s clubhouse and see behind-the-scenes areas, it’s a tight fit. So the team is exploring a move — to the same venue that’s being used for the Super Bowl next month.
Holding TwinsFest at U.S. Bank Stadium would allow the team to return to the wide-open floor plan it had at the Metrodome, with far more room for memorabilia vendors (who are cramped into the service level at Target Field), plus space for clinics and other kids’ events.
“We have been looking at that, year in and year out, for the last two or three years,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said. “This year, with the Super Bowl, the timing wasn’t right. But we have had ongoing discussions with U.S. Bank Stadium about the potential for this event to move there, for at least a test year. Whether that happens in 2019, it’s too early to say.”
The Twins have also considered moving TwinsFest to the Minneapolis Convention Center and the remodeled Minneapolis Armory. Twins owner Jim Pohlad also said the team might explore building a venue of its own.
Staff writer La Velle E. Neal III contributed to this report.