Dexter Fowler Rumors

Olney: Winter Meetings Preview

The Winter Meetings begin shortly at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville. ESPN's Buster Olney, in an Insider-only post, writes past Winter Meetings have been dominated by free agent signings, but some GMs say there is more groundwork laid for possible trades this year than they can remember in the recent past. Here are some of the storylines that could play out this week, according to Olney:

  • If Olney was Rangers' GM Jon Daniels, he would go all out to sign Zack Greinke and then trade some surplus pitching for offense.
  • Some rival officials remain convinced the Diamondbacks will eventually trade Justin Upton, whose contract ($38.5MM due over the next three years) has become more attractive in the wake of his brother's deal with the Braves.
  • The Indians have set the bar high in their demands for Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo. "Time will tell on whether they've lowered (the asking prices)," said a rival GM.
  • The most likely of the Rays' established starting pitchers to be dealt is Jeremy Hellickson. On paper, the best matchup appears to be the Padres.
  • The Reds are looking to acquire a leadoff hitter and could target Dexter Fowler.
  • The Phillies continue to push on Angel Pagan. If Pagan signs with Philadelphia, the Giants could look to Shane Victorino, who is looking for $9-10MM annually.
  • The Pirates have let other teams know that closer Joel Hanrahan is available and they are looking for starting pitching.
  • In a separate tweet, Olney says the perception among rival executives is the signing of David Wright makes it much easier for the Mets to trade R.A. Dickey without fear of a PR backlash.
  • Nate Schierholtz received calls from nine teams within the first 12 hours of being non-tendered with the Yankees in the mix and the Rays also a good fit (Twitter links).

Rockies Unlikely To Trade Dexter Fowler

"Signs point to Dexter Fowler staying in Colorado," writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, citing both the Rockies' large asking price for the outfielder and potential trade partners' concerns about Fowler's ability to hit outside of Coors Field (Twitter links).  Fowler has a career .882 OPS at home and just a .698 OPS on the road over his five-year career, and he put up an even larger set of splits (.984 OPS home/.720 OPS road) in 2012 when he posted a career-best .300/.389/.474 slash line for the Rockies.

A rival executive tells Crasnick that the Rockies are asking for a "sky high" return for Fowler, who is projected to get a raise to $4MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility by MLBTR's Matt Swartz. The Braves were interested in Fowler but balked at giving up two top prospects, according to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler.  Fowler would have been Atlanta's leadoff hitter, as the Braves are still looking for a table-setter since they intend to use the newly-signed B.J. Upton in the middle of the lineup.

The Rockies want a similarly large trade package in exchange for Michael Cuddyer, Knobler reports.  Cuddyer is seven years older than Fowler but comes with cost-certainty (two years and $21MM remaining on his contract) and is more proven as a hitter outside of Colorado.


Rockies Interested In Correia, Francis

As they attempt to bolster a rotation that ranked among the worst in MLB this past season, the Rockies have expressed interest in numerous free agent starting pitchers, including right-hander Kevin Correia and left-hander Jeff Francis, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. The Rockies aim to acquire a reliable arm capable of providing steady innings within a relatively young and inexperienced rotation.

Correia, 32, spent last season with the Pirates, mostly as a member of the Pittsburgh rotation. He posted a 4.21 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 171 innings. Correia, an All-Star in 2011, recently completed a two-year, $8MM contract with the Pirates. When I discussed the Rockies’ search for pitching last week, I suggested Correia would be worth considering.

Francis started 24 games for the Rockies in 2012, leading the team with 113 innings pitched. The 31-year-old posted a 5.58 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9, but he has had success at Coors Field in the past. He has indicated a desire to return to Colorado, Renck reports.

The Rockies have also been getting calls on Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer, though they aren’t looking to trade either outfielder. The Braves have called about Fowler, an Atlanta native, according to Renck.



B.J. Upton Rumors: Sunday

Last night, we learned B.J. Upton is looking to make a decision sometime this week. Here are the latest rumors about the fifth-ranked player on MLBTR's Top 50 Free Agents list:

  • The Braves and Phillies are locked in a fascinating bidding war with a mystery third team, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio. The Braves are considered to have a slight lead with final offers due this week.
  • Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets he believes the Braves and Phillies are the two finalists for Upton, but the Reds also have some interest and possibly the Nationals.
  • O'Brien predicts the Braves will pay more than they wanted and sign Upton, although he thinks Michael Bourn is a better fit (Twitter links).
  • One aftershock of Upton's decision will be the pursuit of the Rockies' Dexter Fowler, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. If the Braves do sign Upton, the Phillies and Nationals could emerge as trade partners and the asking price will be very high.

Passan’s Latest: Myers, Fowler, Asdrubal, McCarthy

The Royals have been shopping top prospect Wil Myers but only in exchange for starting pitching, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Earlier this week, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that Kansas City was known to be at least listening to offers for Myers and top position players like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  The only untouchable Royals appear to be Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez due to their team-friendly contracts — "executives consider [Perez's deal] the best in the game," Passan writes.

The Royals have discussed trades with the Rays, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Athletics, Passan reports.  While Myers would be of interest to any team, he is of particular value to low-payroll teams like the Rays and A's given that Gordon and Butler have large contracts and Moustakas/Hosmer are Scott Boras clients.

Here are some more items from Passan…

  • The Rockies' asking price for Dexter Fowler is "absurd," one rival executive tells Passan.  It appears to be a buyers' market for center fielders right now, though another executive warns that "it will shake out" as the offseason progresses.
  • The Indians are shopping Asdrubal Cabrera, though "not at Black Friday prices," an executive says.  Cabrera is one of a few shortstops on the trade market, along with the Astros' Jed Lowrie and the Marlins' Yunel Escobar.
  • Teams are more worried about Brandon McCarthy's history of arm injuries than with his season-ending brain surgery.  If McCarthy's medicals are clear, however, a team executive thinks the right-hander will get a multiyear contract.
  • Anibal Sanchez's demands for a six-year, $90MM contract are "crazy, and he's probably going to get it," an executive tells Passan.

Rockies Notes: Pitching, Fowler, Cuddyer

The Rockies allowed more runs than any other team this past season, so they’ll be looking for starting pitching this offseason. Does that mean they’ll have trade an outfielder? Not necessarily, as Troy Renck of the Denver Post explained earlier today (Sulia links). Here are the details…

  • The Rockies would like to obtain a starter who can provide consistency and stability in the rotation, according to Renck. Starters such as Ricky Nolasco and Gavin Floyd could be available in trades this offseason, and there’s always the free agent market.
  • Now that the Rockies have acquired infielder Ryan Wheeler from Arizona, they could consider parting with an infielder. They could flip Wheeler or keep him and trade another infielder.
  • Outfielders Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer will both draw trade interest in the weeks ahead, Renck writes. While the Rockies will listen to trade offers, they aren’t aggressively shopping either player.

Rockies Notes: O’Dowd, Fowler, Coaches

The Rockies' season didn't go anywhere close to how they'd hoped, as it was marred by significant injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and disappointing performances from highly touted trade acquisitions such as Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. Jim Tracy resigned as the club's skipper yesterday, but that's not the end of news relating to the Mile High City's team…

  • The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders told readers in a recent mailbag piece that GM Dan O'Dowd is safe for the foreseeable future. O'Dowd still has the confidence of owner Dick Monfort, though O'Dowd is no longer responsible for day-to-day baseball operations following an August front office restructuring. Former assistant GM Bill Geivett assumed the role of senior VP of Major League operations in that shuffle.
  • Within that same piece, Saunders reports that the team is not actively shopping Dexter Fowler, but confirms earlier reports that they will entertain offers on Fowler in order to acquire young pitching.
  • Saunders also notes that the Rockies have asked the Marlins for permission to interview scout Mark Wiley to serve as the director of pitching operations. If that happens, former Royals and Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure is likely to be brought in as pitching coach.
  • Saunders' colleague Troy Renck reports that the Rockies have dismissed hitting coach Carney Lansford and third base coach Rich Dauer. Saunders noted in his piece that Geivett's authority to mold the coaching staff as he sees fit could have played a role in Tracy's decision to resign.

Quick Hits: A’s, Fowler, Phillies

The Mariners announced that they’re changing the dimensions of pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. The left field power alley will move in and the scoreboard in the left field corner will be relocated in order to lower the height of the left field wall. The changes should make Seattle a more inviting place for free agents, especially right-handed power hitters. Here are today’s links…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks back at some of Billy Beane’s offseason trades and explains how the improbable success of the Athletics makes the GM a leading candidate for MLB’s Executive of the Year award.
  • Dexter Fowler wants to stay in Colorado and hopes to sign a multiyear deal with the Rockies, Tracy Ringolsby of ROOT Sports and MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The center fielder recently switched agencies, joining Excel Sports Management. I previewed a possible extension for Fowler earlier this season.
  • The Phillies announced that they hired Bart Braun as special assistant to the GM. Braun had previously been a scout with the Rays.

Rockies Open To Trading Position Players For Pitching

The Rockies will entertain trade possibilities for multiple position players, including Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer, opposing executives and scouts tell Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post.  The club doesn't plan to trade shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but clubs are expected to see if the Rockies will change their tune as the winter progresses.

Colorado is able to make Fowler and Cuddyer available thanks in large part to Tyler Colvin's ability to play all three outfield positions.  If Todd Helton returns from hip labrum surgery that also will bolster the situation at first base where Cuddyer would be in the mix. 

Renck notes that Atlanta and Philadelphia could be fits for Fowler as they seek a center fielder and the Braves had interest in him when they were shopping infielder Martin Prado.  The 26-year-old is also an Atlanta native and plans on living there this offseason.


Extension Candidate: Dexter Fowler

The Rockies are expected to discuss a contract extension with Dexter Fowler this offseason in an attempt to keep him in Denver long-term. While an extension could make sense for both sides, it’s no longer possible for the Rockies to lock him up inexpensively. 

Dexter Fowler - Rockies (PW)

The arbitration eligible center fielder recently switched agencies from the Boras Corporation to Excel Sports Management, a development that the Rockies reportedly found encouraging. Fowler indicated to Troy Renck that he’s open to signing an extension this winter if the Rockies wish to discuss one. It sounds as though there’s already some positive momentum toward a deal. 

Fowler has leverage since he's enjoying his best offensive season and plays a premium defensive position. He has a .304/.389/.495 batting line with 12 home runs and a league-leading 11 triples so far in 2012. As well as he has played, his bargaining power could collapse following a poor season or injury, so an extension could be appealing.

If the Rockies pursue an extension, they would likely attempt to lock the 26-year-old up through one or more free agent years and obtain a club option. Such a deal would provide the Rockies with an above-average performer at a premium position for his prime seasons. Meanwhile, Fowler would obtain the security of guaranteed salaries for his three remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility and beyond.  

Fowler, who’s now earning $2.35MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player, is under team control through 2015 as a super two. Any long-term deal would presumably cover his next three arbitration seasons and at least one free agent year. In general, teams are also able to obtain a club option when extending a player three years away from free agency.

Fowler has likely played his way to a 2013 salary in the $4.3MM range, but that’s if he goes to arbitration. Players who sign extensions don’t generally obtain maximum value for their arbitration years, so $3.5MM might be a more reasonable estimate for Fowler’s 2013 salary. The sides might then approximate Fowler’s last two arbitration salaries at $6MM in 2014 and $8.5MM in 2015. This would add up to a total of $18MM for his three remaining arbitration years. 

Fowler’s free agent years would be valued below market value but above his arbitration seasons. Adam Jones recently obtained $15MM per free agent year on his extension with the Orioles, but he was less than two years from free agency when he signed. Cameron Maybin obtained $8MM per free agent year on his extension with the Padres, but his offensive numbers are inferior to Fowler’s and he signed as a pre-arbitration eligible player. Fowler’s free agent years can safely be valued in the $8-15MM range at this stage, likely around $11.5MM. Lastly we'll add a club option worth $11.5MM ($1MM buyout) for a third free agent year.

If the sides agreed to value Fowler’s three remaining arbitration seasons at $18MM total and his two free agent years at $23MM total, they’ll have reached $41MM in guaranteed money. Add the $1MM buyout for the 2018 club option and the total climbs to $42MM over five years.

This proposed deal wouldn’t be unlike the extensions signed by Kevin Youkilis (four years, $41.25MM), Ryan Zimmerman (five years, $45MM) and Alex Gordon (four years, $50MM). Each deal covers a number of arbitration years and at least two free agent years. These contracts provide teams with discounted arbitration years and extended control over the player. They provide the players with security they wouldn’t otherwise have: tens of millions in guaranteed money. In this context I believe a five-year, $42MM deal would represent fair value for both the Rockies and Fowler.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.