With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Twins squad each day this week. Today's topic: How's your star?
MINNEAPOLIS -- As hometown hero Joe Mauer's star has started to fade since suffering his career-altering concussion in 2013, second baseman Brian Dozier has emerged as the face of the franchise for the Twins.
But Dozier, with two years and $15 million left on his deal and coming off a career year that saw him hit 42 homers, was the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. He wasn't traded and is happy to remain in Minnesota, but said at the recent Diamond Awards he's not thrilled with the way the process played out and doesn't want to be viewed simply as a trade chip moving forward.
"I don't want it to be always about 'I've got two years left,' all this kind of stuff. I don't want it to always be like a ping pong ball or something anytime an opening comes up and all that," Dozier said. "That's kind of been the disappointment through everything. I don't really know how to put it, but I don't want to be that up until the Trade Deadline and next offseason and stuff. I'm here and I'm trying to help this team win games, and that's what I'm here for."
Dozier, however, said the process didn't strain his relationship with the new front office, led by chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine, as he met with them in person at the Winter Meetings to reiterate his desire to stay with the Twins. Dozier, regarded as a clubhouse leader, impressed the front office brass during the meeting.
"You see the performance he had on the field, that jumps off the page," Levine said. "But then when you hear the convictions and the passions behind it, that's where you realize he's a championship-caliber player."
Dozier, 29, remains the club's most dynamic player as well, hitting .268/.340/.546 with 82 extra-base hits, 99 RBIs and 104 runs in 2016, while playing solid defense at second. He was also an All-Star in '15 and participated in the Home Run Derby in '14.
But with the Twins coming off a 103-loss season, the front office explored potential trades involving Dozier to help infuse much-needed pitching into the system. The Dodgers were the strongest suitor, but once they opted to trade for Tampa Bay's Logan Forsythe in late January instead, it made it all but certain that Dozier would remain in Minnesota.