The Washington Nationals agreed to a one-year, $9 million deal Thursday with second baseman Brian Dozier.
Dozier provides power to the Nationals’ lineup as the veteran has hit more than 20 home runs in five straight seasons, including a career-high 42 in 2016. The 31-year-old spent last season with the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the latter of whom he joined at the trade deadline.
The move also gives the Nationals an every-day second baseman, if they choose to go that route. Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said in the offseason he was comfortable using a platoon at the position between Howie Kendrick and Wilmer Difo. But Dozier has had more than 600 plate appearances in every season since 2013.
Rizzo also acknowledged the Nationals’ desire to add at the position last month at the league’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
“If there was a definite everyday second baseman that we liked, we’d certainly consider that,” Rizzo told reporters. “If it was more of a hybrid role, we would consider that. We’ve left ourselves open to a lot of different kinds of options, a lot of different ways to construct the bench and the back end of the roster.”
ESPN was the first to report the news.
Dozier struggled last season, hitting a career-low .215. He was particularly ineffective after Minnesota shipped him to Los Angeles, where his batting average was just .182. The Dodgers benched him down the stretch and Dozier saw only 16 at-bats in 16 postseason games.
But Dozier isn’t far removed from being a high-quality player. He made the American League All-Star team in 2015 and was awarded a Gold Glove in 2017. And while he struggled to consistently make contact in 2018, Dozier still hit 20 home runs and had 72 RBI.
With Dozier on a one-year deal, the Nationals can still develop top prospect Carter Kieboom. The 21-year-old, ranked 90th in MLB Pipelines’ top 100 prospects, is a natural shortstop, but the Nationals have been working on moving him to second with Trea Turner at shortstop.
The Nationals were also reportedly interested in other free agents at the position like D.J. LeMahieu, Josh Harrison and Marwin Gonzalez — though it would have likely taken a multi-year deal to sign any of them. Former starter Daniel Murphy, who was traded in July, signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Colorado Rockies last month.
The Nationals have been busy this offseason, signing pitchers Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez. They also added catchers Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki, reliever Trevor Rosenthal and re-signed first baseman Matt Adams.
Washington, however, still has one last offseason domino it needs to address: Bryce Harper.
The 26-year-old star remains unsigned. While owner Mark Lerner told 106.7 The Fan in December that the team’s 10-year, $300 million was the “best we can do,” the two sides have continued to talk, according to multiple outlets.
MLB recently reported the market for Harper and fellow free agent Manny Machado is “heating up,” though it is not known when and where either will sign.
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