He’s a good bet to return to the KC Royals. A good September would help.
Minor leaguer Hunter Dozier had 23 homers and was slashing .296/.366/.533 when Kansas City made him one of its 2016 September callups. Although he hit only .211 in eight games, his power seemed to put him squarely in the club’s plans for 2017.
But injuries delayed his return to Kauffman Stadium until 2018, when he managed 11 home runs in 102 games but slashed a subpar .229/.278/.395.
Dozier truly arrived in 2019. He clubbed 26 home runs, tied for the big league triples lead with 10, doubled 29 times and hit .279. He slipped to .228 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
Undaunted by that disappointing season, the Royals avoided arbitration with Dozier by signing him to a one-year deal, a contract they tore up just two months later by giving him a surprising four-year pact worth a reported $25 million minimum.
It seemed a questionable move at the time and became even more so last year when Dozier homered 16 times but struggled to hit .216.
Things haven’t improved much this season. Dozier’s 10 home runs are third best on the club, but his .243 average doesn’t match the expectations spawned by his four-year contract. Although some praise his versatility—he’s played first and third base, left and right fields, pitched an inning in a blowout, and DH’d this year—his glove work calls into some question the ultimate value of that versatility.
The bottom line for Dozier is that Kansas City pays him to hit, something he hasn’t done particularly well since 2019; particularly bad are his numbers since this year’s All-Star Break—.188 with a home run and five RBIs.
The two seasons remaining on his contract make his return to the Royals almost certain. But if he can’t get things in order at the plate this month, they might try to move him this winter.
If they can find a taker, that is, which will likely require them to pay a good bit of his salary to play somewhere else.
Three Royals need to find their bats this month.