DENVER -- The Rockies are considering pursuing free-agent second baseman James Dozier on a short-term deal, but have to balance the pursuit against payroll concerns, according to multiple Major League sources.Dozier, who turns 32 on May 15, batted .215 with 21 home runs and 72 RBIs during a 2018 season
DENVER -- The Rockies are considering pursuing free-agent second baseman James Dozier on a short-term deal, but have to balance the pursuit against payroll concerns, according to multiple Major League sources.
Dozier, who turns 32 on May 15, batted .215 with 21 home runs and 72 RBIs during a 2018 season that saw him traded from the Twins to the Dodgers -- where he struggled with irregular playing time in a deep lineup, batting .182 with five home runs in 47 games following the trade. From 2014-17 with the Twins, Dozier averaged 32 home runs a season, with a career-high 42 in 2016.
Dozier could be one more power hitter for a lineup that includes third baseman Nolan Arenado, who led the National League with 38 home runs last season; shortstop Trevor Story, who was second in the NL with 37; outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who hit 29; and center fielder Ian Desmond, who hit 22.
Dozier would be a veteran replacement for DJ LeMahieu -- a free agent after seven distinguished seasons with the Rockies. LeMahieu and Jed Lowrie, who has been a switch-hitting threat while spending the last three seasons with the Athletics, would also be good fits for Colorado, but they seek longer contracts than the Rockies are willing to give.
Even working out a shorter deal with Dozier is not certain, because of the Rockies' growing payroll.
Daniel Murphy signed for two years and $24 million to play first base. Also, the Rockies have seven arbitration-eligible players, with Arenado -- a candidate for a multi-year contract -- expected to break the arbitration record of $23 million set by Josh Donaldson last year, based on projections by MLB Trade Rumors, and Story also in line for a big raise.
Additionally, the Rockies are full of young, homegrown middle infielders.
Left-handed-hitting Ryan McMahon, who played mostly first base last year and saw his bat improve steadily as a rookie, and right-handed-hitting Garrett Hampson, who saw brief action late in the year but earned a postseason spot, appear ready to contribute more. Plus, there's middle infielder Brendan Rodgers, who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 9 overall prospect in baseball and tops in the Rockies' system. Rodgers finished at Triple-A Albuquerque last year.
Dozier's numbers with the Dodgers and Twins dipped last season -- not only the lower batting average, but a .305 on-base percentage and a .391 slugging percentage. From 2015-17, when he emerged as a standout with the Twins, Dozier produced a .258/.335/.496 slash line, with an OPS+ of 122 (22 points above league average).
However, Dozier suffered a severe right knee bone bruise in April, and the pain remained throughout the season. To illustrate how the injury may have affected him, his weighted on-base average was .304 in 2018 after marks of .323 in 2015, .370 in '16 and .362 in '17. He had hard-hit rates of 31.1 percent in '15, 36.2 in '16 and 34.7 in '17, only to see the number drop to 28.7 in '18.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.