The Twins have agreed to a four-year, $20 million deal with second baseman Brian Dozier in a move that looks to benefit both player and team.
The Minnesota Twins had a rough campaign in 2014, as the club went 70-92 and finished last in the American League Central. The win total marked a significant improvement over seasons of recent past, however; the Twins had won no more than 66 games in each of the three seasons before last (2011-13).
The rise to 70 wins was a positive sign, and it was the first time they won that many games since 2010. The team is stocked with a farm system full of prospects, which could help turn the franchise into a winner. There are also some talented players already on their roster, and it’s possible within a couple of years they could contend for a division title.
The club is hoping to have solid 2015 season, and they made a wise decision by locking up second baseman Brian Dozier to a contract extension.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) March 24, 2015
Dozier has signed a four-year contract worth $20 million, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. The salary for him will gradually increase each year over the length of the deal.
Dozier, who was already under contract for the '15 season, will now earn $2M in '15, $3M in '16, $6M in '17 and $9M in '18. No options.
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) March 24, 2015
The second baseman was one of the few players who stood out for the club, as he hit .242 in 707 plate appearances with 33 doubles, 23 home runs, 71 RBI and 21 stolen bases. The OPS for him was .762 and he had a .262 average facing left-handed pitchers. He was also second in the AL with 112 runs scored. It was certainly a breakout year for him, as he combined to hit just 24 home runs in his first two seasons with the Twins.
The power output was great to see, but having the low batting average was a surprise. He is someone the club can build around, due to his terrific mix of power and speed. Dozier is already in the prime of his career and on the cusp of being one of the best second basemen in the AL.
The Twins were very smart to give him this type of deal, as having a player like Dozier for an average of just $5 million a season has to feel like a steal. He will be signed through his arbitration years and none of his free-agent years, which is great in case there is some decline towards the end of the deal.
According to FanGraphs, ZiPS is projecting he will have a higher batting average of .244 in 2015, but there will be a drop in both in the home run and RBI total at 17 and 67, respectively. Considering his first year pays him only $2 million, that production is approaching robbery early in the contract.
Dan Szymborski of ESPN mentions that ZiPS likes how the Twins elected not to buy any of Dozier’s free-agent years:
ZiPS likes that the Twins *aren't* buying out any of Dozier's FA – it has his noticeable decline starting around that point.
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) March 24, 2015
The projection doesn’t stray far away from his production at the plate last year, and there is always a chance that he could improve. If, as Szymborski’s models predict, Dozier begins to decline toward the end of his deal, the Twins’ front office will look like geniuses for locking up Dozier up to, but not into, his free-agent years. This is good for the Twins because they have a solid player at a reasonable price over the next several years, and the commitment isn’t too long.
The deal gives Dozier some financial security, and it’s possible he could receive a larger contract upon entering free agency in 2019 if he continues to improve within the four-year period. In what seems to be a rarity, it appears Dozier and the Twins have agreed on a mutually-beneficial deal as the Twins try to bring winning baseball back to Minnesota.