Dozier is heading into his age-32 season after a disappointing 2018 campaign split across the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers. Dozier had a meagre 77 OPS+ in 47 regular season games with the Dodgers.
Dozier has not been an All-Star since 2015, but he finished 13th and 11th in MVP voting in 2016 and 2017 respectively. He has been one of the premier power-hitting infielders in the league over the last few seasons. That dropped off horribly last season, resulting in a .391 slugging percentage.
The former Twin has never been a high on-base percentage guy. That was fine when he was slugging around .500 or above – it is an issue if he is not. The Nationals are obviously betting on a big bounce back year from the 2017 Gold Glove winner.
Daniel Murphy provided great offence from second base since arriving in the capital as a free agent. Murphy was traded to the Cubs midway through last season, leaving a hole in the Nationals line-up. Dozier fits in well, and will provide better defence than Murphy, who has become little more than a liability with the glove.
Dozier is a risk for Washington. It’s one they can afford, however. The second base market is deep this offseason, but few have the upside of Dozier. D.J. LeMahieu has horrible splits away from Coors Field, Jed Lowrie just had the year of his life, then it’s Josh Harrison, who is more suited to a utility role.
The Nationals can be good even if Dozier does not bounce back from his poor 2018. Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Trea Turner and Adam Eaton are a good spine to build around. Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes are great options at catcher. It will be a high cost for a glove-first infielder, but the upside makes it worth doing.
Should Dozier perform anything like he did in 2016 and 2017, when he hit a combined 76 home runs, it is a bargain for Washington. A bargain that takes their line-up from above average to impressive.
The Bryce Harper factor looms too, of course. If Washington are okay with offering Harper a monster contract, it’s unlikely that a one-year, $9 million deal for Dozier will stop them.