With Kolten Wong going on the DL this week along with half of the starting rotation, the Cards are in a tough spot. Before the rash of injuries, the Redbirds were already struggling at second base and outfield, but now they are looking for a band-aid fix for the rotation over the next couple of weeks. If Marco Gonzalez and Carlos Martinez prove their worth in their next few starts, the rotation won’t be a problem and should continue to be one of the Cardinals strengths. However, even when Wong comes back from the DL, second base will still be the black hole of this offense. Therefore, I am proposing that the Cards go all in and try to acquire Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins.
So far this season, Dozier is having a fantastic sophomore year, hitting .252/.366 with 15 HR and 38 RBI’s. Last season, Dozier posted a 3.8 WAR, and he is already sitting at 3.2 WAR for 2014. Those numbers are beyond impressive for any average second baseman, and they put Dozier on par with Cano and Kinsler as the elite at the position. Most importantly, Dozier is still signed to his rookie contract through 2018. Therefore, acquiring Dozier will bring any team incredible value for relatively little money.
If you’re wondering at this point if Dozier could simply be a fluke, and that his numbers these past two seasons are just too good to be true, don’t worry too much. Dozier’s BABIP for 2014 sits at .267 which is actually below his career average of .274 and also below the major league average of .300. Therefore, Dozier has actually been slightly unlucky this summer, so his numbers could be assumed to be even better in the future. Also, Dozier’s OBP has increased from .312 to .366 this season, indicating a new-found patience at that plate which has helped his other numbers as well. Finally, contributing to his increased OBP is a strikeout percentage dropping a full 2% from 19.3% to 17.3% this season.
So what will it take to pry Dozier away from the Twins? Probably not as much as you might think. The Twins have easily the best farm-system in the league with two of the top three prospects as rated by MLB.com in Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Both of those guys are projected to hit the Majors in 2015, so they are only a year away from producing for the Twins. They also have possible replacements for Dozier in Eduardo Escobar at the Major League level or Jorge Polanco in the Minors. Where the Twins lack depth, though, is quality starting pitching, something we all know the Cardinals have in excess. If the Cardinals can offer the Twins some decent pitching to compliment their already young budding team, it might not take as much to pry Dozier away as previously expected.
The trade that makes the most sense for both teams would be for the Cards to deal either Shelby Miller or Lance Lynn with a package of prospects to the Twins for Dozier. Miller and Lynn both give the Twins a front of the rotation guy who can be run out every five days and be expected to come away with a win. To compliment those two, the Cards would have to give away some significant prospects, most likely Tim Cooney, Zach Petrick, and either Marco Gonzalez, James Ramsey, or Stephen Piscotty. While all of those prospects would be hard hits to the farm system, the Cardinals’ Major League club would have an overwhelmingly dominate lineup for the next few years.
A trade that makes a little less sense for this contending team but saves the farm would be to give up Michael Wacha along with two of those names listed above. Wacha would instantly give the Twins an ace thus compensating for more of Dozier’s value than either Lynn or Miller. As such, three top flight prospects would not need to be sent over, as two high rated prospects or even three lesser prospects would suffice. The biggest drawback to this trade, though, is how much it would sting to Cardinals’ fans who have come to love Wacha over the past two years.
Overall, I believe acquiring Brian Dozier would be a season-altering move for the Cardinals. Any opposing pitcher would automatically fear a lineup including Dozier, Yadi, Matt Adams, and Matt Carpenter. While the hit to farm would be substantial, Dozier is young enough and inexpensive enough to build this team around in the coming years. The starting rotation could survive the loss of either Lynn or Miller or even Wacha and the Cards could be holding the golden trophy at the end of the year. It’s a welcome move all-around, and hopefully one that will be considered come July.