NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. – The Twins rarely have made a splashy moves during the winter meetings, But that could change with a trade of a certain power-hitting second baseman.
Derek Falvey, the Twins’ chief baseball officer, made it clear Sunday that he’s not actively shopping former All-Star Brian Dozier, who is coming off a 42-homer, 99-RBI season. But they are listening to inquiries. And, according to a USA Today tweet, the Dodgers remain engaged in talks about Dozier and have at least “piqued,” the Twins interest. The Angels also are in the market for a second baseman, but there have been no indications that they actively pursuing Dozier.
“Brian is an exceptional player and is one of the better players in the game at his position, if not the best second baseman, you could argue,’’ Falvey said on Sunday from the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, home of the winter meetings. “I think we expect to hear from more teams. We certainly have had some calls to date. I would expect that would pick up in the coming weeks.”
Dozier, 29, is the Twins’ best trade chip. He has smashed 70 home runs over the past two seasons and is more than reasonably priced — set to earn $6 million in 2017 and $9 million in 2018. The Dodgers are searching for a second-base upgrade from Chase Utley. Dozier would be a perfect player to boost their .622 on base-plus-slugging percentage against lefthanded pitchers. And his salary would be a good fit on a team trying to add talent while trimming its $249 million payroll.
Indications are that the Twins will not move Dozier unless they are overwhelmed with an offer. The Twins could want Julio Urias, the 20-year-old lefthanded prodigy. To pique the Twins’ interest, the Dodgers might dangle righthander Jose DeLeon, considered their second-best prospect, as part of any deal. The Twins are looking to augment their pitching staff, and DeLeon, considered to be close to the majors, is viewed as a potential No. 2 starter.
It likely will take more for the Twins to move Dozier, but how much more? Would they be willing to take on some salary to get a package they like? That’s what winter meetings are for.
“In Brian’s case, he’s a meaningful part of our franchise,’’ Falvey said. “He’s under contract for two more years. Those are all meaningful things. For any of our players were getting to gauge each potential trade independently. Brian is a meaningful player, and were are going to look for a lot if we are going to move a meaningful player.’’
If the Twins do deal Dozier, Jorge Polanco would be an option to move to second base. Polanco hit .282 with four home runs in 69 games for the Twins, but committed 15 errors and his throws from shortstop lacked zip.
But Falvey said that if Polanco addresses skill development — better footwork, hands, timing and positioning — his arm might not be an issue from short.
“As it stands right now with our current roster,’’ Falvey said, “we feel he has a chance to be the shortstop.”
Falvey and new GM Thad Levine were getting settled in at the winter meetings Sunday. Staff meetings were planned for Sunday night, as Falvey and Levine continue to meet more people in the organization. But they also plan to connect with as many clubs and agents as possible as they look to improve the pitching staff.
“We’ll try to be opportunistic this week to the extent we can be on different fronts,’’ Falvey said.
• Longtime Twins scout Larry Corrigan, who is recovering from a stroke suffered in May, is at the winter meetings.
• Twins manager Paul Molitor will meet with the media at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
• The Twins still are looking to fill out their major league coaching staff and might speak to some candidates this week.
• The Twins are among the teams still examining details of the new collective bargaining agreement and how it affects their spending.