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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: Brian Dozier

There’s an open infield slot to start the season, and there are worse idea out there.

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The Yankees need some other infielder to start the season. With Didi Gregorius out until June at the very earliest, there is currently a gaping hole at shortstop. While you could do some shuffling and put Gleyber Torres there until Gregorius comes back, there’s still a spot open somewhere.

Ideally, the solution is Manny Machado. However, as we’ve seen already this offseason, there are no guarantees that the Yankees will be willing to drop a big bag of money on a player. If they decide to pass on him as well, there are other options, but some of them may require the Yankees to get a little creative. Should one of those creative options be Brian Dozier?

After nearly 1000 games across seven seasons with the Twins, Dozier was traded to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, and is now entering free agency. The second baseman has been worth 22.1 fWAR for his career, his best season coming in 2016, when he was worth 6.2 fWAR and put up a 132 wRC+.

Last season saw a pretty big drop for Dozier, as his wRC+ dropped to 90; 92 with Minnesota, 83 with the Dodgers. According to some advanced metrics, his defense also dropped in 2018, though the advanced numbers were never particularly high on him previously.

If he is in fact on the downside of his career, why would the Yankees consider him? For one, he’ll probably be semi-cheap. MLB Trade Rumors predicted that he would get a one-year, $10 million deal. Sign him to a one-year deal and hope he bounces back in 2019. Gleyber plays shortstop for a couple months, and maybe Dozier can hold things down at second base.

If things work out, you get a good offensive second baseman, and one with power at that. (He’s had a 40-homer season, and a couple 20-homer seasons in his career.) He can be insurance in case Gregorius takes longer than expected to come back. Or, if everything works out fine with Didi, he would be another good bat to cycle through in at second and DH depending on the day. He’s noticeably better against lefties for his career, sporting an .850 OPS versus lefties and a .739 mark against righties, so using him as a pinch-hitter or platoon bat in spots could make sense.

On the other hand, if he’s bad, it’s easy to just move on from Dozier. Gregorius will hopefully be back at some point. If Dozier continues to decline, you don’t have to keep him once Didi gets back. Regardless of the outcome, a one-year deal won’t be back-breaking. If Dozier manages to get more than a one-year deal someone else, though, then he probably doesn’t make as much sense for the Yankees.

There probably isn’t any reason to expect the Yankees to actually sign Dozier, at least at the moment, as they haven’t been connected to him at all. Still, I don’t think anyone would have predicted Neil Walker to be a Yankee at this point last year. If the Yankees are truly not going to spend money on Machado, there are worse ideas than seeing what Dozier could do.