The Royals introduced Monday that infielder Hunter Dozier, who’s enjoying out the third season of a four-year contract value a assured $25MM, has been designated for project. His spot on the energetic roster will go to infielder Nicky Lopez, who’s getting back from the 10-day injured checklist.
Dozier, 31, was the No. 8 general choice within the 2013 draft, although that was typically considered an underslot deal that allowed them to go over slot to signal lefty Sean Manaea 26 picks later. Dozier was nonetheless a well-regarded prospect himself, however he struggled significantly in his first few professional seasons earlier than a breakout exhibiting between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. He struggled in his first two large league appears in 2016 and 2018 however appeared to have a breakout marketing campaign in 2019, when he slashed .279/.348/.522 with a career-high 26 dwelling runs.
In fact, as is usually recognized at this level, that 2019 season noticed a bunch of wierd offensive breakouts across the league as MLB labored with a juiced baseball each within the large leagues and in Triple-A. A comical 58 players belted 30 or more home runs that season, and had been it not for a three-week keep on the injured checklist, Dozier may very nicely have been a 59th.
The 2020 season noticed Dozier take a step again, however his .228/.344/.392 batting line nonetheless clocked in proper round league-average, per metrics like wRC+ and OPS+, after weighting for his pitcher-friendly dwelling park and a diminished leaguewide run-scoring setting. On the entire, Dozier batted .267/.347/.492 with 32 dwelling runs in 772 plate appearances from 2019-20 — exhibiting the Royals sufficient that they felt comfy making that four-year extension supply previous to the 2021 season.
Issues went south virtually instantly, and Dozier has batted simply .222/.286/.384 with a 27.2% strikeout price in 1134 plate appearances since placing pen to paper on that contract. He’s oscillated between first base, third base and proper subject with out drawing optimistic defensive grades at any of the three spots. This 12 months’s struggles have been notably pronounced, as Dozier has limped to a .183/.253/.305 slash with a career-worst 31.9% strikeout price in 91 journeys to the plate.
The Royals could have every week to commerce Dozier, go him by way of waivers or launch him. Provided that he’s being paid $7.25MM this season and is owed each a $9MM wage in 2024 and a $1MM buyout on a 2025 membership choice, there’s no means he’d be claimed on waivers. The Royals might maybe attempt to engineer a swap that sends Dozier elsewhere in change for one more dangerous contract, although they’ve presumably appeared into such eventualities (or commerce eventualities the place they pay the majority of the contract) with out placing up a deal.
Even when Dozier goes unclaimed on outright waivers, he has greater than 5 years of MLB service time, which means he might reject an outright project, elect free company and nonetheless retain the rest of his wage. It’s commonest for gamers in comparable conditions to this one to wind up merely being launched. A technique or one other, it’s doubtless that at the moment’s DFA will spell the top of Dozier’s time with the Royals group. If he finally does find yourself changing into a free agent, he’d have the ability to signal with any of the 29 different groups, who’d solely owe him the prorated league minimal for any time spent on the massive league roster/injured checklist. That quantity could be subtracted from what the Royals owe Dozier, however they’ll stay on the hook for the overwhelming majority of his contract regardless.