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Twins GM Thad Levine downplays rumors around Dozier, Bautista

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Just when you thought the Brian Dozier to Dodgers deal was dead and the Twins were signing Jose Bautista, GM Thad Levine says, “Slow your roll, bloggers.”

MLB: General Managers Meetings
Thad Levine is always willing to listen (according to Thad Levine).
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Remember a couple weeks ago when the Twins said they were asking for final offers on Brian Dozier? It turns out that wasn’t entirely true. Oh—and neither was that stuff about the Twins seriously pursuing Jose Bautista.

Twins GM Thad Levine cleared up these points last night when he appeared on the Twins’ weekly radio show “Deep Cuts”.

With respect to Dozier, Levine said there was never a true deadline on a deal, and specifically denied that he’d use a deadline as a negotiation tactic. As he explained:

In this case in particular it was reported there was a hard-and-fast deadline. I can assure you that is not the way we’re going to operate. First of all, we would never use that as a ploy just to leverage a negotiation. I think that’s pretty flimsy and transparent on its own merits.

The reality is there’s going to be a point in time in this offseason where we may stop initiating calls, but we’re always going to pick up the phone and hear teams out. We would be imprudent not to do that, and I assure you Derek and I will never let one of our individual principles get in the way of helping this franchise. So we’ll never put ourselves in intractable positions that will cost this franchise in the near or long term.

That explanation helps ease my fears that I expressed last week about how the Twins were potential mishandling negotiations. He was pretty direct in saying that reports of a supposed deadline were not a ploy, so I think it’s fair to say that could extend to the other reports over-stating other teams’ interest in Dozier too.

Levine didn’t address the Bautista rumors quite as directly, but did some shed light, saying:

Derek and I are responsible at this time of year to really canvas with the remaining free agents. There’s still a few trade negotiations going on, but as you can appreciate, it’s January 11th, and players want to know where they are going to land. And there’s a handful of free agents out there who have a real chance to impact major league teams. We’re going to stay in touch with all of those agents.

Whether we’re formally meeting with them or just speaking with them is a little bit of a... secondary to the point that we’re staying in touch. Because if we have the means to improve the 2017 team, we’re going to do that.

It sounds like the Twins were really just doing their due diligence, not seriously pursuing Bautista.

But... if these reports aren’t actually accurate, where did they come from?

My guess? These rumors did all start with the Twins front office, but were misinterpreted and/or exaggerated as they traveled through the reality of today’s 24/7 media market. With all the different media channels out there reporting on the same thing, and reporting on others reporting, bits of news can end up mangled like in a giant game of Telephone. This is especially true with something like the Dozier trade—one of the most talked-about subjects of the MLB off-season, despite there being so little actual news. Baseball writers and bloggers desperate for content get so excited about a tiny leak that they spin it into a whole story.

For example:

  • “We’re looking to get a deal done soon,” turns into, “FINAL DEADLINE”.
  • “We had some talks with the Cardinals today,” turns into, “THE CARDINALS ARE TOTALLY STILL IN IT.”
  • “I left a voice mail for Bautista’s agent today,” turns into, “OMG SHOULD THE TWINS PLAY BAUTISTA PRIMARILY IN THE OUTFIELD OR AT DH?”

So on and so fourth...

Basically: Yes, blame the media—including us (although we try to remain as honest and realistic as possible! I swear!).

Levine even acknowledged this point about media accuracy too, saying:

It’s been a very unique off-season in the sense that since the flurry of trades at the Winter Meetings, it seems as if the Minnesota Twins have garnered a lot of the headlines—primarily centered around Brian Dozier, with a later drop-in by Jose Bautista and some innuendo about us meeting with his agents. In practice, and we’ve said this before—it’s a bit of a refrain of ours—but a lot of the media representations aren’t exactly 100% accurate.

I know it’s a little bit of a bubble-burster, but like I said, I try to be honest.

If you’re interested in listening to the whole interview with Levine for yourself, you can download the episode (and others) of Deep Cuts here.