All off season we’ve been hearing constant news that the Twins and Dodgers were interested in making a trade involving Brian Dozier. The constant we heard was that young righthander Jose De Leon was going to be the return piece, but what was never constant was whom was going to join him in Minnesota. Rumors suggested that the Dodgers were only willing to execute a straight-up swap of the two players, while others claimed that the Twins were looking for other Dodgers top prospects such as first base slugger Cody Bellinger, righthanders Yadier Alvarez, Walker Buehler, and Brock Stewart, and/or second baseman Willie Calhoun in addition to De Leon.
As we all know, the teams reached an impasse and despite the Twins offering an ultimatum, both organizations eventually determined that a trade simply wasn’t going to happen. Much like the tales of one of your exes, though, the Dodgers moved on fairly quickly as they just swung a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, sending De Leon to St. Petersburg for second baseman Logan Forsythe in a one-for-one swap.
Forsythe is similar to Dozier in several ways. Being just four months older than Dozier, he’s also a right-handed bat that has excelled against left-handed pitchers in his career. Additionally, Forsythe too had an inauspicious start to his major league career as he was a .235/.303/.343 hitter with just 18 career home runs over nearly 1100 plate appearances from 2011 to 2014. However, he turned a corner in his second season with the Rays two years ago and over the 2015 and 2016 seasons Forsythe hit a combined 37 home runs and triple-slashed .273/.347/.444 in almost 1200 plate appearances. Finally, he is under contract for two more seasons, just like Dozier.
Over the past two seasons, Forsythe put up a .343 wOBA and 119 wRC+ (meaning he was 19% above average) while Dozier had a .346 wOBA and 117 wRC+. By those measures, it seems as if the Dodgers found an equivalent player to Dozier and was able to acquire him for the offer they wanted to make all along. That is, until you realize that while Forsythe has been a good player for the past two years, Dozier has put together one additional season as an above-average hitter and we could even toss in a fourth of him being at least league-average. Though Forsythe does have a third above-average season himself (2012 with the Padres), he also has three seasons of being an absolutely dreadful hitter on his ledger.
Perhaps us Twins fans are biased, but I do think it’s a fair assessment that Brian Dozier is a better second baseman than Logan Forsythe. Therefore, if the Twins wanted more than Jose De Leon in return for Dozier and De Leon netted the Dodgers Forsythe, then this tweet that I found sums up the conclusion nicely.
Two winners of this trade are Tampa and Minnesota. The market has been set for Dozier and it's more than just DeLeon. https://t.co/KDBQgkNUng— Baseball Outliers (@b_outliers) January 24, 2017
Even if talent evaluators are correct in assessing that De Leon’s ceiling is as a #4 starter due to his potential home run woes, that means the Twins were right in holding steady during their trade talks. Although it’s pretty much guaranteed that Dozier will start Opening Day in a Twins uniform, this means that any teams that are in need of a second baseman around the trade deadline will have to pay more than De Leon’s worth in order to acquire him.
I will admit that I was disappointed that the Dodgers found a different trade partner, but ultimately I feel that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made the right non-move. Unfortunately this does add some more risk in needing Dozier to remain healthy and productive this season, but the past couple years have shown that their patience could be worthwhile.