Dodgers' target Brian Dozier flattered by rumors, prefers to stay with Twins

Brian Dozier hit .268 with 42 home runs and 99 RBIs with the Twins last season and that has other teams interested in his services. AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said he is meeting with his team's front office members Monday night to discuss his status and trade rumors such as those involving the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dozier was at the annual winter meetings Monday for an Under Armour event, to announce the company's deal to supply all Major League Baseball uniforms starting in 2020. He even sat next to the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the casual news conference.

"He was joking with me when we first talked," Dozier said.

After a season when he hit 42 home runs, drove in 99 runs and posted a .546 slugging percentage, teams have been inquiring about Dozier's availability this offseason. The Dodgers, who are interested in improving their fortunes against left-handed pitching, have been one of those teams.

"My agent, Damon Lapa, we've had numerous talks just because of, first of all, that is his job to brief me about certain teams -- the Dodgers and all those other teams -- and to be prepared for if something does happen," Dozier said. "He's meeting with the Twins tomorrow, and I'm meeting with them tonight. You just want to get a feel."

The Dodgers were miserable against left-handed pitching in 2016, batting a baseball-worst .213 and also bringing up the rear in OPS at .622. Dozier, a right-handed hitter, batted .282 against lefties with a .965 OPS.

The Dodgers have a second base void now that Chase Utley is a free agent and Howie Kendrick was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. In-house candidates to take the job include Enrique Hernandez, Micah Johnson and Charlie Culberson.

Joining the contending Dodgers would be intriguing, but Dozier admitted that for now, his heart and soul remains in Minnesota and in turning around the Twins' fortunes.

"For me, personally, that is what fuels you to hopefully remain in an organization, because you want to be a part of success there, but at the same time I understand it's a business," Dozier said. "Obviously the Dodgers have come up, and it's one of those things that is exciting. If you don't embrace the opportunity to let all of this soak in and see how teams value you, then you lose out. I think it's pretty cool."

Sitting next to Kershaw on Monday seemed to bring all those Dodgers trade rumors full circle.

"Ironically, that's the way it is," Dozier said. "But we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves."