Dexter Fowler Rumors
Baseball personnel believe Billy Beane of the Athletics is the best GM in the game, the New York Post's Joel Sherman writes in a survey of scouts and executives. "He continues to find ways to be ahead of trends," says one scout. Joe Maddon of the Rays and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals got the most votes for best manager, and the Angels' Mike Trout got the most votes for best player. Here are more notes from around the West divisions.
- New Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler doesn't understand Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd offseason comments questioning his passion for the game, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. "I'm still trying to figure out where they're coming from," Fowler says. " 'Passion for the game' - I mean, you see me each and every day. This will never change. So I don't know where that was coming from." Fowler also tells Drellich he didn't know whether O'Dowd was even the Rockies' GM, or whether it was assistant GM Bill Geivett. (O'Dowd runs baseball operations, while Geivett runs big-league operations.) The Rockies traded Fowler to Houston in December.
- Joe Blanton is bracing for an uncertain future with the Angels, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes. "Whatever happens, happens," says Blanton. "All I can do is just go pitch and try to make the adjustments in-game and keep working hard." Blanton has $7.5MM plus a $1MM buyout remaining on his contract, and does not have a spot in the Angels' rotation after a miserable 2013 season. The Angels could release him, or move him to the bullpen while they wait for their relief corps to get healthy.
Fowler, 28 in March, wasn't able to replicate his brilliant offensive performance in 2012, but he still enjoyed a strong season. The switch-hitter batted .263/.369/.407 with 12 homers and 19 stolen bases as Colorado's primary center fielder. A sore right wrist and a left knee sprain limited Fowler to just 119 games, but he's only one year removed from a .300/.389/.474 batting line.
Fowler has a strong walk rate and rarely strikes out, but he's not without his warts. Fowler isn't regarded as a strong defensive center fielder, owning negative career marks in Ultimate Zone Rating and Derfensive Runs Saved. He's also done most of his damage at Coors Field, posting an .880 OPS at home in his career compared to a .694 mark on the road. He's owed $7.35MM in 2014 and will be arbitration eligible for the final time before free agency the following offseason.
Lyles, who recently turned 23, has a career 5.35 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 48.6 percent ground-ball rate. Those numbers certainly aren't impressive, but Lyles has consistently been one of the youngest pitchers in the Majors after debuting as a 20-year-old in 2011. The Astros selected him 38th overall in the 2008 draft, and he twice ranked on Baseball America's list of Top 100 prospects. Lyles appeared to be on the road to a solid breakout season, having posted a 4.02 ERA through July 10, but he faded down the stretch, posting a 7.67 ERA over his final 13 appearances. Lyles won't be eligible for arbitration until next offseason and is under team control through the 2017 season.
Barnes, 27, batted .240/.289/.346 with eight homers and 11 stolen bases. Though he offered little at the plate, Barnes played outstanding defense in the outfield. He was solid against left-handed pitching as well, batting .296/.354/.437. He's under control through the 2018 season and is not yet arbitration eligible.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
After making strong plays for free agents Jose Dariel Abreu, Brian McCann, and Carlos Ruiz, the Rockies are searching hard for impact bat and relief help. The Rockies have talked with the Angels about slugger Mark Trumbo and called the Royals about their surplus of relievers, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
Trumbo, of course, will be hard to pry away and has drawn interest from several clubs in need of a power bat. A deal with KC might be easier to swing, writes Renck, as Colorado's main trade piece, center fielder Dexter Fowler, could be a fit in Kansas City. Opposing execs have said for weeks that the Rockies are open to trading Fowler and they've already talked with Carlos Gonzalez about playing in center if necessary.
Royals relievers Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are reportedly "very available" via trade, and Wade Davis could be a trade candidate after the signing of free agent starter Jason Vargas. Both Crow and Collins are headed into the first year of arbitration eligibility and MLBTRs Matt Swartz projects them to earn $1.9MM and $1MM, respectively. Davis will make $4.8MM in 2014 and has three club options for 2015 through 2017. Renck adds that the Rockies attempted to acquire Davis from the Rays multiple times prior to his inclusion in last winter's James Shields-Wil Myers blockbuster.
Fowler was hampered by multiple hand injuries in 2013 and he started just three games in September because of a knee injury. Fowler, who will make $7.35MM this season, posted a .263/.369/.407 slash line in 2013.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Here's the latest from FOX Sports' Jon Morosi:
- The Tigers are "gauging interest" in starting pitcher Doug Fister as well as Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello (Twitter link). Morosi repeats a bit of trade speculation from a reader who suggests that Fister for Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick might be a good fit (link). That doesn't even rise to the level of a rumor at this point, but it's interesting, given the Tigers' need for a second baseman and the Angels' desires to add pitching while keeping payroll down.
- The Giants are interested in free agent pitcher Jason Hammel and have asked to see his medical records (link). Hammel posted a 4.97 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in a down year with the Orioles in 2013.
- The Mariners have Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler on their radar as a potential trade target (link). The Mariners have been connected to any number of outfielders already this offseason, so it's unsurprising that they would be interested in Fowler, who hit .263/.369/.407 in 2013. Fowler is set to earn $7.35MM in 2014.
A quick look at the latest from the AL and NL West..
- The Mariners have interest in free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The M's have been expected to be in the hunt for right-handed hitting this winter and one possible target, Marlon Byrd, came off the board earlier today.
The Rockies continue to tell teams that stars Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Michael Cuddyer are unavailable, but they did talk to a couple teams about center fielder Dexter Fowler, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Cardinals are said to have been one of the teams to call on Fowler, but people close to the situation say there wasn't an apparent match.
- A's pitcher Brett Anderson could hit the trade block and the odds will only increase if Bartolo Colon is retained, writes Heyman. The A's also have starters Sonny Gray. Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, and Tommy Milone. in the fold.
The Giants are fans of free agent catcher Brian McCann, but they won't move former MVP Buster Posey to a new position to make room for him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, they could shift center fielder Angel Pagan to one of the corners and look into outside options like Jacoby Ellsbury. Meantime, their emphasis is on the rotation and they have already shown interest in Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and many other free agent starters. Here's more out of the NL West..
- Right now, there's no evidence that the Rockies will consider trading stars Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, one GM tells Heyman. That GM said he has been told Gonzalez is "definitely" not available and was left with the impression that Tulowitzki isn't being traded either. Rockies Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer & General Counsel Bill Geivett said of Tulowitzki today, "He's not going anywhere," tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Geivett suggested the same of CarGo. Morosi adds that Geivett indicated he'd need to be overwhelmed to trade center fielder Dexter Fowler, but he did not explicitly rule that out.
- Along the same lines, Geivett shot down rumblings connecting Tulowitzki to the Cardinals, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Geivett believes that with the right additions, the Rockies can put themselves in position to contend. "We like our core group of guys. We feel like we have a good crew to build around. I know some people disagree, but we don't feel that we are that far away," Geivett said. "We have to be healthy. We can't have our two main guys missing too much."
- Starting pitching and a power outfield bat are among the items on the Diamondbacks' wish list, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. General Manager Kevin Towers believes that he is poised to be active in trade talks with depth in the middle infield and center field.
Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis offers his thoughts on this year's World Series contenders in a special piece for the Los Angeles Times. In the article, Ellis breaks down the Dodgers' loss to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, as well as the approaches of the St. Louis and Boston offenses. More Saturday night National League links:
- Congratulations to the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran, who was presented with the Roberto Clemente Award earlier this evening for his contributions on and off the field. As Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, the high school that the outfielder established in Puerto Rico, has graduated its first class of students.
- Many of the players that Tony La Russa led to a World Series victory in 2011 as manager of the Cardinals are no longer with the team, but La Russa says that the organizational culture remains unchanged. The team is “set up real well for the next three to four years," he comments in an article by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. La Russa also offers praise for current Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny and his thoughts on the role of the manager in today's game.
- Sources tell Troy Renck of The Denver Post that the Rockies bid as much as $63MM for Jose Dariel Abreu, who eventually signed with the White Sox for $68MM over six years. Renck says the revelation that the Rockies are willing to go as high as $10MM annually for a player is an "intriguing development" and notes that the club is expected to sift through possibilities in the outfield and at first base. The Rockies also appear to ready to listen to offers for Dexter Fowler, Renck writes.
The Rockies (57-65) and Padres (54-67) are playing out the string on the 2013 season and already looking ahead to 2014. Here's the latest from these two NL West clubs...
- Rafael Betancourt is set to come off the disabled list and Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link) speculates that the Rockies could put Betancourt on waivers to gauge trade interest in the closer. Colorado and Betancourt have a $4.25MM mutual option for 2014 and through the 38-year-old has two separate stints on the DL this year, he has still pitched effectively. With a younger and cheaper closing option in Rex Brothers, however, the Rockies may want to make a change.
- Dexter Fowler should be made available on the trade market this winter, The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla opines. Fowler is hitting .268/.376/.428 with 12 homers, 67 runs scored and 18 steals in 430 PA, and has spent time on the DL with hand and wrist injuries. As Kiszla notes, the Rockies shopped Fowler last offseason but didn't find any takers after asking for a big return. Fowler signed a two-year, $11.6MM deal with Colorado in February and the 27-year-old still has one final year of arbitration eligibility following the 2014 season.
- Chase Headley's disappointing season has left the Padres with a bit of a conundrum this winter, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Rumors have been rampant over the last year that the Padres would either sign Headley to a long-term extension or trade him, though the Padres would be selling low if the moved Headley now. Center speculates that the Padres might try to lock Headley up to a bargain of an extension and then re-explore the trade market if he returns to form next season.
- Also from Center, he notes as part of his weekly Padres chat that he expects the Padres actively pursue trades this winter. Center sees the Friars offering packages of a young pitcher and a position player, and says the club will certainly pursue corner outfield help. Third base could also be a possibility given Headley's situation.
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.
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.