Dodgers get Dozier from Twins
By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers made another addition to their infield, acquiring power-hitting second baseman Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday for infielder Logan Forsythe and two minor leaguers shortly before the trade deadline.
Dozier departed Target Field soon after the deal was done in the afternoon, aiming to take advantage of the two-hour time zone difference and arrive at Dodger Stadium in time to be available to play for Los Angeles sometime during the game against Milwaukee.
The Dodgers, who went all in by acquiring Baltimore shortstop Manny Machado during the All-Star break for five prospects, had a need for an established right-handed hitter. Their lineup has been in flux, with Arizona and Colorado right on their heels.
“Knowing as you get later in the season, and particularly in September when teams can start game planning and stacking their rotation a certain way, they think you have a weakness against a certain side,” Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said. “To bring in a right-handed bat that has success against lefties, we think, gives our lineup and our overall roster really good balance.”
Dozier was the fifth player traded by the Twins in the last five days. Signaling the front office’s shift in focus to the future amid a disappointing season, Dozier followed starting pitcher Lance Lynn, relief pitchers Zach Duke and Ryan Pressly and infielder Eduardo Escobar out the door. The Twins received a total of 12 players in return, with Forsythe the only current major leaguer. For Dozier, they received outfielder Luke Raley and left-handed pitcher Devin Smeltzer.
“We ultimately made some difficult decisions, some hard choices, to trade away players that we think would help us in the next few months for a great deal of talent that would help us in the future,” chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. “I feel good about that.”
The 23-year-old Raley was hitting .275 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs at Double-A. The 22-year-old Smeltzer was 5-5 with a 4.73 ERA at Double-A.
Though the 31-year-old Dozier’s production has dropped off this year, he has 161 home runs in six seasons as a regular in the lineup. In 2016, Dozier went deep 42 times, becoming only the fourth player in major league history to hit 40 or more home runs while playing second base. Dozier is batting .224 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs this season, with a .708 on-base-plus-slugging percentage that’s his lowest since he was a rookie in 2012.
“It’s disappointing on a lot of levels, but I understand it’s a business, and I don’t like to say that, but it really is when things like this happen,” said first baseman Joe Mauer, who said he was not approached about waiving his no-trade clause.
Dozier, who is making $9 million this year, will be a free agent in the fall. He was drafted in the eighth round by the Twins in 2009.
“Brian’s brand here in Minnesota, I don’t know if you can get much better than that,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Everything that he’s done for the community and the way that he’s played the game, he’s set a great example for our young guys throughout, and you’re going to miss a guy like that.”
After the Twins lost a team-record 103 games in 2016, the Dodgers pursued Dozier that winter but settled for Forsythe in a trade with Tampa Bay instead. The Twins went on to make the playoffs, and the Dodgers were the National League champions.
Forsythe, though, has not panned out in Los Angeles. The 31-year-old, who has played second base, third base and first base this season and took some turns at shortstop and left field in 2017, hit .218 with just eight home runs, 49 RBIs and a .639 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 189 games with the Dodgers. Forsythe will also be a free agent in the fall.
Dozier, who has never been on the disabled list and averaged 153 games played over the past five seasons, likely won’t be an everyday player with the Dodgers. Enrique Hernandez, Max Muncy and Chase Utley have also played second base, and third baseman Justin Turner is due back from injury soon to give Roberts another player who’ll figure in down the stretch.
“We have a lot of good players that I feel that we still need to keep them involved, but to have him on our roster certainly makes us better,” manager Dave Roberts said, adding: “Competition is always a good thing, but I think we do a pretty good job of keeping guys involved.”