After arriving in the majors back in 2012 as a relatively unheralded prospect, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier entered the 2018 campaign having produced five consecutive above-average seasons. The All-Star middle infielder’s 2016-17 performance (11.2 WAR) places him second among qualified second basemen during that time, behind none other than Jose Altuve. Even accounting for his 2018 struggles — a relative term, since he is still tracking for league-average performance — Dozier ranks third among all second basemen over the last three calendar years, trailing Altuve by a sizable margin and Robinson Cano by a half-win.
Roughly two-thirds of the way through a season in which the Twins expected to contend — having acquired Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison, Addison Reed (among others) all at market value or less — the Twins haven’t succeeded on that front, having struggled in a very weak AL Central. They find themselves seven games under .500 and trail the Indians by eight full games; as you might expect, they are expected to be less productive than the Indians for the remainder of the season, too.
- 2B Brian Dozier
From the Dodgers’ side of things, the return represents an obvious upgrade over Logan Forsythe, whose negative half-win contribution thus far this season is not ideal in a scenario where every game counts. Dozier, meanwhile, is a player who has quietly outperformed his peers over the past half-decade. His 2018 xwOBA of .293 ranks in just the 13th percentile (min. 250 PA), yet our projection systems are more optimtistic, calling for him to produce a batting line 10% better than average over the rest of the season. He’s projected for just over a win before the season’s end under control for just this season, which sounds about right for a bounce-back candidate with his pedigree.
While Dozier’s plate-discipline metrics and batted-ball statistics all resemble those he’s produced in previous seasons, a significantly lower xwOBA speaks to a dramatic decrease in exit velocity. Dozier is 31 years old, on the decline side of the aging curve. While he appears to be a useful piece, his best days are behind him; the Dodgers can’t be expecting vintage Dozier production, but in light of injuries, this helps. He represents a one-win upgrade over Forsythe (who’s projected for 0.1 WAR the rest of the way).
The Twins will take a chance on a Logan Forsythe bounceback here, too, and attempt to flip him next month to a contender in need of a utility defensive upgrade. The Twins have at-bats and playing time to give, and Forsythe could begin hitting again.
Devin Smeltzer is a left-handed starter with a 7.21 K/9 and a 2.04 BB/9 as a 22-year old in Double-A, but a pedestrian fastball limits his ability to start long-term. Our prospect analysts give him a presently above-average changeup and curveball, though, with both progressing to plus as well as 50 future command. It’s a 40 FV and perhaps that’s a situational bullpen arm moving forward, if Smeltzer progresses as expected. He’s not someone the Dodgers will miss, though.
Raley is a 23-year-old first-baseman for the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate slashing .275/.345/.477 for a 119 wRC+. He made Eric Longenhagen’s “fliers with big pop” category on the Dodgers list in May, a possible future bench piece per continued development.
The Dodgers, really, won’t miss any of the return surrendered. With a strong player development system, the organization routinely churns out players with more to offer than when they arrived. For two months of Brian Dozier, I have to imagine other front offices are seeing similar things to what I have laid out in this piece. The Angels received two high-octane relievers for two months of Ian Kinsler, and the Phillies received Franklyn Kilome, a 50 FV starting pitcher who landed on Eric and Kiley’s midseason prospect list. The Dodgers have to be content with themselves at this moment, giving up three extraneous pieces — pieces they didn’t need — for a capable starting second baseman who’ll help during the stretch run. The Twins, on the other hand, are banking on both a Forsythe turnaround and a miracle in player development.
A finance student in the lovable armpit of Orange County, Rahul Setty spends his time following the Angels, writing for Halos Heaven, and derives joy from Mike Trout's on-base percentage which is, thankfully, always high. You can reach him on Twitter @RahulSetty_.