MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins made their fifth and final deal before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, sending second baseman James Dozier to the Dodgers for veteran second baseman John Forsythe and prospects Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley.Dozier, perhaps the club's most popular player over the last five seasons, had become one
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins made their fifth and final deal before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, sending second baseman James Dozier to the Dodgers for veteran second baseman John Forsythe and prospects Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley.
Dozier, perhaps the club's most popular player over the last five seasons, had become one of the faces of the franchise, along with Joe Mauer, after developing into a power-hitting All-Star second baseman and a clubhouse leader. But he will become a free agent after the season, and the Twins weren't going to re-sign him, so they decided to move him to the Dodgers, who had been linked to Dozier before the '17 season.
"It's a very difficult day on a lot of fronts," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "Brian has been a meaningful part of this franchise. This an opportunity for him to go to a winning ballclub that was in the World Series last year and with their roster is looking to maybe finish it off this time. We just felt like for us as an organization, this was the right time to make this decision. We were able to acquire some talent we feel can help us build toward a championship future."
Dozier joins Eduardo Escobar (D-backs), Thomas Pressly (Astros), Zach Duke (Mariners) and Lance Lynn (Yankees) as those traded by Minnesota prior to the Trade Deadline, bringing back 11 prospects and Forsythe. Pressly was under contract through next year, but the rest were all going to be free agents after the season. The Twins hung onto closer Fernando Rodney, as they have a $4.25 million club option on him for next season, and right-hander Kyle Gibson, who remains under team control through next year.
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"It's been tough," said Mauer, who was never asked to waiver his no-trade clause. "We've lost some really good people, some really good players and really close friends. It's disappointing on a lot of levels. But I understand. It's a business, and I don't like to say that, but it really is when things like this happen. But I try not to worry about things I can't control. "
Dozier, an eighth-round Draft pick in 2009, was a success story in Minnesota, winning the organization's Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2012 before unexpectedly becoming a power hitter in the Majors and a fan favorite. He participated in the Home Run Derby in '14, was an All-Star in '15, hit a career-high 42 homers in '16 and won a Gold Glove Award in '17. He had expressed interest in signing an extension prior to this season, but the front office never approached him or his agent about a potential new contract.
"I think the reality of it always stings a little bit more than as you think about it potentially going down," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about Dozier. "Kind of like with Esco, you've got a guy who's just meant a lot to this organization. He's been here since '09, I believe when we drafted him, and just been an integral part of what the Twins have been about here at least the last handful of years."
Raley, 23, is the headliner for the Twins, as he ranked as the Dodgers' No. 19 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The left-handed-hitting first baseman/outfielder is having a solid year at Double-A Tulsa, hitting .275/.345/.477 with 17 homers, 17 doubles and 53 RBIs in 93 games. He's expected to move into an outfield role with Double-A Chattanooga.
"I think he's really developed into that power, the last year-plus," Falvey said. "He's somebody we think going to Double-A is not unlike a Brent Rooker. He really gives us a chance to add some power to our lineup."
Smeltzer, 22, has posted a 4.73 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 19 walks in 83 2/3 innings at Double-A. He had been starting early in the season but moved to relief in July.
Forsythe, 31, was included in the deal because he's making the same salary as Dozier this season ($9 million) and the Dodgers wanted to avoid going over the luxury tax. He also gives the Twins a veteran infielder for the second half, but he's hitting .207/.270/.290 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 70 games this season. He's expected the join the roster on Wednesday.
"He's going to get plenty of chances to play, I would imagine, in the short term," Molitor said. "I'll have an opportunity to get a chance to look at some different people in different roles."
While Forsythe couldn't join the roster in time for Tuesday's game, reliever Trevor May was called up from Triple-A Rochester to take the place of Duke. It marked May's return to the Majors after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2017. He had a 4.00 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 16 walks in 27 innings at Triple-A Rochester.
"It's been a long road for me, just personally, and it doesn't always work out this way," May said. "So it's good to get the opportunity again. I made a pact with myself to get out of my own way, and I'm going to give myself every opportunity to earn a spot and keep it for a long, long time."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.