LOS ANGELES -- James Dozier caught the first flight out of Minnesota after being traded by the Twins to the Dodgers for John Forsythe and two Minor Leaguers on Tuesday. A free agent after this season, Dozier was eager to follow new boss Andrew Friedman's suggestion and report immediately to
LOS ANGELES -- James Dozier caught the first flight out of Minnesota after being traded by the Twins to the Dodgers for John Forsythe and two Minor Leaguers on Tuesday. A free agent after this season, Dozier was eager to follow new boss Andrew Friedman's suggestion and report immediately to work.
Dozier arrived in the dugout for the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 1-0 loss to the Brewers. He didn't get in the game, but manager Dave Roberts said he'll be starting at second base on Wednesday night.
"I don't like days off," he said, explaining why he rushed to California.
Dozier has some adjusting to do, to a new league for sure, but also a new organization that insists its players buy in to a progressive, team-oriented approach that isn't always ideal for pending free agents to show their wares.
Then again, Dozier also will find himself on a team in a dogfight for first place, one that acquired superstar Manny Machado two weeks ago and beat the non-waiver Trade Deadline by adding Dozier as well as reliever John Axford from Toronto for another Minor Leaguer, pitcher Corey Copping.
"I told Dave, you'll get 100 percent from me," said Dozier. "Off the bench, playing every day, whatever the case may be. Whatever I can do to help this ballclub win and get to the postseason and win a world championship, that's what I'm here for."
The Dodgers tried to acquire Dozier two winters ago, but they thought the cost was too high (Walker Buehler and Cody Bellinger were among Minnesota's ask) and settled for Forsythe in a one-for-one trade with Tampa Bay for young right-handed pitcher Jose De Leon, who has since had Tommy John surgery.
Forsythe has been a disappointment and Dozier is having a down year, too, but general manager Farhan Zaidi said Dozier still represented an improved right-handed bat for an offense that has struggled recently against left-handed pitching.
"Our lineup against left-handed pitching has been a concern of ours, particularly over the last month or two," said Zaidi. "When teams can game plan and stack their pitching when they think you have a weakness on a certain side, to bring in a right-handed bat gives our lineup really good balance."
"That's a big acquisition," said manager Dave Roberts. "He's going to play against left-handers and against right-handers, but to say every day, that's a little extreme. We have a lot of good players and I feel we still need to keep them involved. But to have him on our roster certainly makes us better."
Forsythe, a solid defender, is having an even worse offensive year than Dozier, batting .207 with two homers and 13 RBIs, and has lost playing time to Chase Utley, Player Page for Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez.
Dozier, 31, is batting .224 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs. Two years ago, he had 42 homers and 99 RBIs. In 2015, he was an All-Star.
"The first half of the season hasn't really gone so well, I've been through a lot physically and mentally," said Dozier. "Everything cleared itself up and I'm ready to go now, second-half surges are always good, especially in a pennant race."
Dozier and Forsythe each make $9 million this year, so the Dodgers did not add payroll with this deal. They added about $500,000 with Axford and are about $3 million shy of the competitive tax threshold.
"He has setup and closer experience," Zaidi said of Axford. "He's always had really good stuff. I'm guessing we'll ease him into that role. There won't be immediate pressure to assume that eighth-inning responsibility. I don't know if we'll have a pure eighth-inning guy as opposed to matching up and playing out the game that way."
Although the Dodgers did not land the high-profile relievers on the market -- Brad Hand, Jeurys Familia, Zach Britton, Roberto Osuna -- Roberts and Zaidi indicated that the later the season gets, the more likely high-leverage relief innings could be handled by starting pitchers sent to the bullpen. Candidates could include Thomas Stripling, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood and Rich Hill, plus Julio Urias, who is working to return from shoulder surgery. Zaidi even said the club might deploy "unconventional" tactics, like piggy-backing two starters in one game.
"Everything's going to be on the table," Zaidi said.
Going to the Twins with Forsythe are outfielder Luke Raley and pitcher Devin Smeltzer. MLB Pipeline ranked Raley No. 19 in the Dodgers' system.
The trades for Dozier and Machado rebuilt half of a Dodgers infield that was disrupted by the early-season loss of shortstop Corey Seager to Tommy John surgery. Machado, the American League's starting All-Star shortstop this year, has been playing third base for the Dodgers while Justin Turner has been on the disabled list with a strained right groin muscle.
Turner is expected to return later this week, with Machado sliding over to shortstop. Roberts said Dozier will get most of the starts at second base, but said he will continue to rotate Utley, Hernandez and Muncy, who has been sharing first base with Bellinger.
Chris Taylor has been starting at shortstop, but he will be displaced when Turner returns. Taylor played center field most of last year, when he had his breakout offensive season. Roberts has been using Bellinger and Hernandez in center since Taylor took over shortstop.
"We're here to win a championship and our players understand there's got to be some unselfishness there," Roberts said of balancing opportunities. "It's a different game in the National League. I don't think it will be a problem. We do a pretty good job keeping guys involved."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.