Dexter Fowler Rumors

Stark On Shields, Stanton, Masterson, Fowler

Jayson Stark leads his latest column for ESPN with a discussion of the ten managers currently in the last year of their contracts, noting that teams these days are more willing to allow skippers' contracts to expire.  Also from Stark's column:

  • One American League executive would rather give a $100MM contract to James Shields than Zack Greinke, because Greinke sometimes "seems a little disinterested" while Shields is regarded as more of a competitor.  Shields is on track for free agency after the 2014 season, assuming the Royals exercise a club option for about $13.5MM after this season.
  • An NL exec wouldn't give up Travis D'Arnaud or Zack Wheeler for Giancarlo Stanton
  • A Justin Masterson-Dexter Fowler trade between the Indians and Rockies "was talked about extensively early in the offseason," according to Stark.  Masterson is under the Indians' control through 2014, while the Rockies control Fowler through 2015.
  • In regard to shortstop Jean Segura, Brewers GM Doug Melvin commented, "I see people talk about the [Jurickson] Profars and even the Dee Gordons. But they never talk about him. He's an exciting player."  Melvin acquired Segura, John Hellweg, and Ariel Pena from the Angels for Greinke last summer.

NL Notes: Fernandez, Fowler, Pirates, Giants

The Marlins were questioned about their decision to overlook service time considerations when they added Jose Fernandez to their Opening Day roster. So far, the gamble is working for Miami. The 20-year-old, who is making the jump from High-A ball and is the youngest player on a 2013 Opening Day roster, was outstanding in his MLB debut striking out eight (a franchise record for a debut) while allowing only three hits and one walk in five innings of the Marlins' walkoff loss to the Mets. Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel notes Fernandez is just the seventh starter under the age of 21 to record at least eight strikeouts in his MLB debut since 1916 and only the fourth pitcher in the past 13 years to record six or more strikeouts in his debut joining Oliver Perez, Clayton Kershaw, and teammate Jacob Turner (Twitter link). In other news and notes from the National League:

  • Dexter Fowler credits his early season success to the security of his recent two-year, $11.6MM contract extension, writes the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck. Fowler believes the investment shows the Rockies now see him as part of their core and not just a trade chip for pitching.
  • A former minority owner of the Pirates believes owner Bob Nutting "is too rational a businessman to ever spend more money to build a winner," reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Conventional wisdom says the economic playing field is too uneven for the Pirates to be competitive without a larger payroll. Ex-Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, a Pittsburgh native, disagrees telling Biertempfel, "The days when any franchise was revenue-challenged are long over. There is so much revenue in baseball, not just at the local level but also national revenues that sustain every franchise as well as enormous amounts of revenue sharing. Every franchise has the ability to compete without losing money."
  • The Giants held their World Series ring ceremony today and and there were some notable no-shows. According to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, Brian Wilson was invited, but never responded dampening the prospects of a reunion when the Giants' former closer fully recovers from Tommy John surgery. Guillermo Mota meanwhile had a prior family committment, but Baggarly writes he has thrown for the Orioles and could sign a Triple-A contract with them.  
  • Reliever Mike MacDougal has signed a minor league deal with the Reds, reports Baseball America's Matt Eddy. MLBTR reported exclusively in February the 35-year-old would throw a bullpen for interested teams. MacDougal appeared in just seven games for the Dodgers in 2012, but he posted a 2.05 ERA in 69 appearances with them in 2011.

Rockies, Fowler Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Rockies have avoided arbitration with Dexter Fowler by agreeing to a two-year deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). The contract is worth $11.6MM, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The 26-year-old Fowler is represented by Excel Sports Management.

Fowler enjoyed a career year in 2012, posting a robust .300/.389/.474 triple slash line to go along with 13 home runs and 12 stolen bases. As a Super Two player, Fowler was eligible for arbitration for the second time this season. The new contract buys out his second and third years of arbitration eligibility, though he'll be under control for one more season following the completion of this deal.

Fowler had filed for $5.15MM, and the Rockies countered with a $4.25MM offer. The Rockies took a similar approach to Jhoulys Chacin's arbitration situation. The right-hander recently signed a two-year deal that will buy out his first and second arbitration years but does not include his final year of eligibility.

As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, Fowler was the Rockies' final unresolved arbitration case. The team has successfully avoided a hearing with all six of its arbitration-eligible players.



West Notes: Fowler, Wells, Dodgers

Earlier today, the Padres signed Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal and announced that they've avoided arbitration with Luke Gregerson by agreeing to a one-year deal. Here's some more news out of baseball's West divisions…

  • The Rockies are open to a multi-year deal with Dexter Fowler if Fowler and his agents at Excel Sports Management come up with a proposal to the club's liking, writes MLB.com's Thomas Harding. Colorado recently signed Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year deal despite previously saying they preferred one-year deals.
  • Vernon Wells would prefer to remain with the Angels and prove to fans what he's capable of rather than be traded elsewhere with a chance to start (Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times reports on Twitter). Wells says he knows he has to earn a spot to play and that he has to work hard in order to do so.
  • Major League Baseball isn't happy with the Dodgers' reported new TV deal, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale reports that the previous fair-market value for a new deal called for an $84MM annual value. The Dodgers agreed to a deal with Time Warner Cable earlier today that would provide the team with roughly $280MM annually. That number has created significant revenue-sharing concerns among MLB officials.

Quick Hits: Gonzalez, Fowler, Harrison, Nationals

Several teams have shown interest in the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler, but the club hasn't had trade discussions on either player in recent days, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Colorado heard from a number of parties interested in Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings but they reportedly told teams that he wasn't available.  Meanwhile, Fowler's name has popped up quite a bit in trade rumors in recent months with the Braves, Reds, and Phillies all showing interest earlier this offseason.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Nationals manager Davey Johnson said at last night's BBWAA dinner that he was caught off guard by the club's signing of Rafael Soriano, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post.  "That kind of surprised me,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know we were needing a closer. I thought we were done” this offseason."
  • The Rangers are basically paying Matt Harrison as just a slightly above-average starting pitcher in his new deal and even if his results fall back to his peripherals, he'll still outpitch his contract, writes Jack Moore of Fangraphs.  Texas agreed to a five-year, $55MM extension with the 27-year-old last week.
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider sub. req'd) writes that there are interested teams champing at the bit to get involved in the Justin Upton conversations with the Diamondbacks.  The D'Backs spent the early part of the month talking with the Mariners and Cubs, who are both on his no-trade list. 

Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays and Braves are known for their 'file and trial' policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $4MM or more. Now for the details…


Rays Seek Center Fielder

The Rays are still looking for a center fielder, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link). However, there's not much out there at this stage in the offseason. Stark wonders if the Rays could be a landing spot for Michael Bourn, the top free agent position player remaining.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post notes that the Rockies are among the many clubs that like Jeremy Hellickson and wonders if the Rays could have interest in Dexter Fowler (Twitter link). As MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows, Bourn, Scott Podsednik and Grady Sizemore are the only free agent center fielders still available. Gerardo Parra comes to mind as a trade candidate capable of playing center field.

Desmond Jennings, who played 21 games in center field this past season, would presumably start in center if the Rays don't add another player at that position. If the Rays do acquire a center fielder, Jennings might shift back to left field with Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer assuming reserve roles. B.J. Upton played center for the Rays for years before signing with Atlanta as a free agent this offseason.


Braves Still Involved In Multiple Trade Talks

The Braves have already made one notable trade this offseason (Tommy Hanson for Jordan Walden), and Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says they are still involved in multiple trade talks (Twitter links). Emilio Bonifacio and Dexter Fowler are believed to be among their targets.

O'Brien notes the Braves did make a strong push for Shin-Soo Choo before he was traded to the Reds, but the team wasn't going to overpay for a player one year away from free agency. Atlanta has been seeking outfield help this offseason, though Martin Prado's versatility also allows them to seek a third baseman if they choose.


Rockies, Reds Have Discussed Fowler

2:19pm: Talks between the Phillies and Rockies never got serious, Renck reports (on Twitter). Talks with the Reds could pick up, but Colorado's demands haven't changed.

1:18pm: The Phillies had some serious talks with the Rockies about Fowler before acquiring Ben Revere, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). The Mariners have also checked in on Fowler, who seems to be a backup plan for Seattle.

11:21pm: The Rockies and Reds have engaged in preliminary trade talks about Dexter Fowler, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Cincinnati could trade players from its MLB roster, but right-hander Homer Bailey will likely remain with the Reds, according to Rosenthal.

Any Reds package would start with Mike Leake and involve at least two more prospects, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported last night. The Reds maintain interest in Fowler and the Braves can't be ruled out, Renck adds.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty recently downplayed the chances of trading for Fowler, saying he hasn’t really talked to the Rockies. “I’m not sure Colorado is moving Fowler,” Jocketty said, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer suggested this week that the Reds could make a run at acquiring Fowler.

From a financial standpoint trading for Fowler would be more affordable than signing Michael Bourn. Fowler, a 26-year-old switch hitter, posted a .300/.389/.474 batting line in 530 plate appearances this past season. He's second time arbitration eligible with a projected salary of $4MM and will remain under team control through 2015.

Rosenthal suggests the Reds could trade MLB players such as Leake and outfielder Drew Stubbs


Rockies Notes: Cuddyer, Francis, Fowler

Some early-morning Rockies news, courtesy of the Denver Post's Troy Renck (Twitter links)…

  • A trade is still the more likely means for Colorado to acquire starting pitching help, according to Renck. Teams are calling about Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer. Renck notes that the two years and $21MM remaining on Cuddyer's contract may be appealing to teams, given the inflated prices we've seen in this year's free agent market.
  • The one-year deal signed by Jeff Francis last night will pay the southpaw somewhere north of $750K salary that he earned in 2012.
  • Renck also writes that the team included Alex White in this week's Wilton Lopez trade because they no longer viewed White as a starter.
  • Within that same piece, Renck reports that in trade talks prior to the Winter Meetings, the Rockies asked for Mike Minor and one of Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado in exchange for Fowler. Needless to say, the price on Colorado's center fielder remains high.