Hey, did you know the Twins might trade Brian Dozier? It's an issue that hasn't gotten a lot of attention in the baseball reporting world ... unless, of course, you count the daily speculation since the beginning of November.
But yes, it's true. It could happen. The dude who hit 42 homers last season, breaking the single-season American League record for homers by a second baseman in the process, could be on the move. The Twins have a new front office with new ideas about how to get this club out of a long rut, and moving Dozier, who is under incredibly affordable team control the next two years (just $15 million total), would be both an emotionally painful parting with a franchise face and a sensible solution for a club in need of high-upside arms for the long haul.
The Twins have been fielding offers for Dozier all offseason, and they appear to be nearing a decision on whether to keep him or move him. So, let's explore the teams that have been tied to the Dozier market and consider why they do or don't make sense for his services.
Why they make sense: Enrique Hernandez, who had a .607 OPS last season, currently fronts the Dodgers' depth chart at second base. And while Chase Utley provided serviceable offense (.716 OPS, 14 homers, 26 doubles) last season and is still available, at 38, he poses nowhere near the offensive threat Dozier does. Furthermore, the Dodgers struggled mightily against left-handed pitching last season, and Dozier has a career .854 OPS against lefties.
Why they don't: This club won 91 games with a very similar roster to the one it currently possess, so Dozier could be viewed as overkill. Furthermore, this is a club that has greatly valued its wealth of prospect pieces, because of the upcoming luxury-tax thresholds and increased penalties that will make cost-controlled talent so vital.
Trade chips: It's no secret Jose De Leon, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect per MLBPipeline.com, would be part of a Dozier deal, as he's precisely what the Twins need. The hangup has been how to round it out, with MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reporting in December that the Twins also wanted, L.A.'s No. 1 overall prospect, Cody Bellinger. Second-base prospect Willie Calhoun, outfielder Alex Verdugo or Cuban Yadier Alvarez (who cost the Dodgers $32 million in signing bonus and tax penalties) are other options.
Why they make sense: Atlanta popped up in the Dozier market on Friday morning. The Braves have the ability to be flexible with their infield alignments, and they are on the rise after a strong offensive surge in the second half of 2016 and the addition of several veteran arms to their rotation this offseason. With SunTrust Park opening, there is value in putting a compelling and contention-ready product on the field.
Why they don't: They just signed Sean Rodriguez to a two-year deal, and second base is probably his best defensive position. Though the Braves are improved, it might be more sensible to allocate financial and trade resources into the 2018 product, by which point Dozier will be in his walk year.
Trade chips: The Braves have an abundance of young arms, including Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb (No. 3 prospect), Kolby Allard (No. 4) and Mike Soroka (No. 7), to name a few. It's a pretty good match here in terms of the Twins' area of need and the Braves' area of depth.
Why they make sense: Kolten Wong just hasn't put it all together at the big-league level yet, and so penciling him in as the everyday starter at second (assuming Jedd Gyorko bounces around the infield, as currently planned) is a big risk for a Cards club chasing the mighty Cubs. Dozier would help maintain the Cards' 2016 propensity toward power while also giving them solid defense up the middle.
Why they don't: With Wong, Gyorko, Jhonny Peralta, Aledmys Diaz, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams and Greg Garcia, the Cards already have a wealth of infield options. It could be time to give the 26-year-old Wong, who is under contract through at least 2020, his everyday opportunity and see if the lessons learned with last year's demotion help him to unlock his offensive potential.
Trade chips: Maybe it's as simple as Wong being a piece -- or the piece -- that goes back to the Twins, though that obviously wouldn't help their need for pitching. We can assume Alex Reyes is off the table, but RHPs Luke Weaver (No. 2 prospect) or Jack Flaherty (No. 4) could be dangled in a Dozier deal.
Why they make sense: Honestly? They don't. But we're trying to be inclusive of all the teams that have been tied to Dozier in the rumor mill in recent weeks. The only way this works is if they bench or trade Ryan Zimmerman and move Daniel Murphy to first.
Why they don't: Every position is spoken for, and they still owe Zimmerman another $48 million over the next four years.
Why they make sense: They've stocked up on infield depth this offseason, perhaps pointing to concern about second baseman Joe Panik's health (he had back issues in 2015 and a concussion in '16, to go with a decline in performance) or third baseman Eduardo Nunez's track record. Dozier could conceivably move to third and, in general, lend more stability to this infield.
Why they don't: Nunez is coming off an encouraging season in which he was an average-to-above-average offensive contributor, and Panik, a 2016 Gold Glove Award winner who is under team control for the next four years, is not far removed from an All-Star-worthy first half of '15. The Giants could be tied to the Dozier market simply to drive up the price for their L.A. rivals.
Trade chips: Unless Panik is somehow involved, it would probably all come down to how much the Twins value right-hander Tyler Beede (No. 2 prospect), who has good stuff but doesn't notch high strikeout rates, fanning just 7.5 batters per nine innings in his Minor League career to date. Right-handers Sam Coonrod (No. 5 prospect) and Joan Gregorio (No. 7) and southpaw Andrew Suarez (No. 8 prospect) are some other names of note.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.