On last week's episode of Talk to Contact, Darren "Doogie" Wolfson spent some time with us discussing the possibility of a Brian Dozier contract extension. He mentioned that Dozier's agent has already approached the Twins about this possibility. By the end of the interview, he said he wouldn't be surprised if Dozier has a new contract in place by the end of spring training next year.
From the perspective of the Twins front office, there might not be a reason to be in a rush with Dozier. He didn't make his big league debut until the age of 24. His first year of arbitration eligibility is 2016 and he can't be a free agent until 2019. Dozier would be 31-years old before he hit the free agent market and a lot can happen to a player over the course of multiple seasons.
On the other hand, Minnesota might want to lock-up Dozier before he gets to arbitration because of the way he has played since the second half of last season. Dozier's power swing really showed up in the last year's second half. He slashed .253/.313/.443 with 10 home runs and 18 doubles. His batting average is never going to be the prettiest (he's a career .240 hitter) but his combination of stellar defense and base running ability make him very valuable.
A hot start from Dozier in 2014 could mean his cost is starting to rise. He already has nine home runs to his name and his 34 runs scored leads the American League. The addition of Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor to the coaching staff must also be helping Dozier. One of Molitor's duties is base running coach and Dozier is closing in on a career high in steals. He collected 14 steals a season ago and he already has 12 in 2014.
So what could a Dozier extension look like in the next year?
A starting point for the Twins and Dozier could be the deal signed by Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko was drafted a year after Dozier and he made his debut on roughly the same timeline. Even though he was still arbitration eligible, the Padres inked him to a 5-year, $35 million contract, which includes a team option for a sixth year. This could mean Gyorko is in San Diego through 2020.
Another second baseman to sign a recent contract extension was Jason Kipnis. Like Dozier, he was drafted in 2009 but he made his debut a year earlier. He also has an All-Star appearance to his name and he was closer to free agency by a year. The Indians gave Kipnis a 6-year, $52.5 million deal with a team option for 2020.
Looking at these two deals I would put Dozier somewhere in the middle of these two players. The Twins should offer Dozier a 5-year deal for around $40 million with a team option for a sixth year. His average salary would be less than Kipnis and higher than Gyorko. I could see it going a little higher than $40 million but not too much higher. This deal would lock up Dozier through his arbitration years and push back his free agent years.