The Nationals reached a one-year, $9 million deal with second baseman Brian Dozier on Thursday morning, according to a source, landing a home run hitter and quality glove to all but complete their offseason -- outside of Bryce Harper.
General manager Mike Rizzo often said the team would be satisfied starting the season with a platoon of Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick. As the market for second baseman crept along, Rizzo began to shift his stance. He eventually came to an agreement with Dozier, who hit 21 home runs last season while playing for the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Signing Dozier allows the Nationals to have enough depth among their second base trio. It also does not stunt the path of premier prospect Carter Kieboom, who is expected to arrive in the majors at some point this season and will likely start out at second base despite being a natural shortstop. Trea Turner holds that spot in the big leagues.
Dozier, entering his age-32 season, rose to prominence in Minnesota when he became an All-Star in 2015 before hitting 42 home runs in 2016. He hit 34 more in 2017 and won a Gold Glove at second base, where he has played 910 of 993 career games.
His arrival, if just for a year, provides the Nationals a trio of things they could use: The first is more overall power on the team. It comes cheap in this instance at $9 million. The second is a quality glove at second base. Daniel Murphy’s lacking defense was a detriment at the spot in recent years and the organization was adamant it wanted to get better up the middle. Third, it provides a sure answer to the position. Dozier should be set to play 130-140 games, repositioning Difo as a utility infielder and Kendrick, who is coming off an Achilles tendon tear but expects to be ready for spring training, as a pinch-hitter.
Dozier also provides further lineup depth. He’s a right-handed hitter who has more power against right-handed pitchers but also hits for a better average against left-handed throwers. One version of a Nationals lineup could feature Dozier’s power all the way down in the eighth spot.
Adding Dozier gives the Nationals their fifth former All-Star as a new addition to the roster this offseason. Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin, reliever Trevor Rosenthal and new catchers Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki have all made appearances in the midsummer classic.
The signing completes Rizzo’s offseason to-do list. Now, he, and everyone else, waits on Harper.
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