On the heels of finishing with the worst record in the majors, the Twins have turned the page with a new front office power structure. New chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and new general manager Thad Levine were officially introduced earlier this week. One move isn’t going to turn things around overnight with this franchise, but one of the big questions the new front office will have to face this winter is whether now is the time to deal second baseman Brian Dozier.
It sounds like they’ll have some scenarios to think about if they decide to go that route. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Twins received interest from multiple teams regarding Dozier during this week’s General Managers Meetings in Arizona.
Thanks to an amazing power surge, Dozier established new career-highs with 42 homers (tied for third in AL) and 99 RBI this season while batting .268/.340/.546 over 155 games. He was hitting .202 with five homers and a .624 OPS through the end of May, which means that he slugged 37 homers over his final 109 games. He led all MLB hitters with 28 homers after the All-Star break. This equaled his total from all of 2015, which was his previous career-high.
On paper, this feels like an obvious sell-high situation. Dozier is going into his age-30 season, so he’s in his prime. He’s also signed for two more years at $15 million, so he’s under contract at a bargain rate. The Twins could ask for some premium prospects to help with their rebuild effort and improve their pitching staff. What’s not to like here?
The question is whether the market will be strong enough to make it worth their while. Falvey told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press earlier this week that second base is “a really robust position right now with a number of really good impact players across the game.” He’s not wrong. 2016 was the Year of the Second Baseman in many ways. Among contenders, there aren’t as many obvious fits as it would seem.
One interesting possibility to think about is the Dodgers. Chase Utley is a free agent and Howie Kendrick reportedly wants a trade. The Dodgers are already connected to Ian Kinsler as the Tigers try to trim some payroll this winter, so it’s easy to imagine that they were one of the teams who talked to the Twins this week. Keep an eye on this one.
New Role for Rosenthal?
Trevor Rosenthal was considered a top-10 fantasy closer coming into 2016, but he went through some brutal struggles during the first half before being booted from the role and he spent most of the second half on the disabled list due to shoulder inflammation and a flexor tendon strain. Seung Hwan Oh now has a firm grip on the closer role after a dominant first season in the states, so the Cardinals are looking at how they can best utilize Rosenthal moving forward.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals plan to stretch Rosenthal out as a starter during spring training. That doesn’t mean that he’ll end up in the rotation. If all goes well, the Cardinals will have five healthy starters with Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake, Lance Lynn, and Alex Reyes. Among others, they also have Jaime Garcia after picking up his 2017 option and Michael Wacha, who missed most of the second half due to a recurrence of his scapular injury.
Inspired by some of the trends we saw during the postseason, the Cardinals are thinking about transitioning Rosenthal into a multi-inning relief role. Depending on how things work out in the rotation, Wacha could find himself in a similar position. Whether this sort of multi-inning reliever role can actually work in the regular season is a legitimate question. Teams don’t have the luxury of off-days like we see during the playoffs. And even Andrew Miller appeared winded in Game 7 of the World Series. The Cardinals will simply keep an open mind for now and see where it takes them.
Rosenthal came into 2016 with a 2.66 ERA over his first 233 appearances in the majors, but he struggled with a 4.46 ERA over 45 appearances this season. He walked 14.7 percent of the batters he faced, which was the third-highest rate among MLB pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched. He’ll have a lot to prove going into 2017.
Dickey Returns to NL
After four seasons in Toronto, former Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey has returned to the National League. The Braves announced Thursday that they signed the 42-year-old knuckleballer to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with an $8 million club option (or $500,000 buyout) for 2018.
Dickey is coming off a 4.46 ERA and 126/63 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings this past season. His home run rate (1.49 HR/9) was the highest of his career and eighth-highest among qualified pitchers. Meanwhile, he posted his highest walk percentage since 2009 as a member of the Twins.
Getting away from Rogers Centre and moving back to the National League is obviously a good thing for Dickey, but we’re not looking for much here from a fantasy perspective. The rebuilding Braves would probably be happy to get 30 starts from him at something approaching the league average in the first year of their new ballpark. For what it’s worth, Dickey checked in with a 100 ERA+ during his time with the Blue Jays.
Quick Hits: Jeurys Familia pleaded not guilty to a charge of domestic violence in a court appearance in Fort Lee, New Jersey on Thursday. His next hearing is in December. He can be suspended by MLB regardless of whether the criminal charge is dropped … Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy and Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts were among the players who were named winners of the Silver Slugger Award on Thursday … Per Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Giants met this week with the representatives for free agent closers Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and Mark Melancon … Edwin Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said during a radio appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Thursday that his client received an offer from the Blue Jays, “but it’s not where the camp wanted it to be.”… Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was told by a rival executive that he believes J.D. Martinez is the most likely Tigers player to be dealt this offseason … Matt Holliday has officially become a free agent … Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters on Thursday that no trade is imminent with Brian McCann … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Orioles are eying Josh Reddick among possible additions for their outfield … Indians right-hander Cody Anderson underwent an arthroscopic debridement of his elbow on Wednesday …