Kansas City Royals Rumors: 5 Questions Regarding Potential Trade for Dexter Fowler
5 Questions About Kansas City Royals Trading for Dexter Fowler
In the constantly churning rumor mill of offseason baseball, the Kansas City Royals are as active as ever. One name often mentioned is that of Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler. While a trade is much more realistic at this point than the Royals spending big money on a free agent, this option brings up quite a few questions, all of which serve to answer the ultimate question – would bringing Fowler to KC really be a good idea?
Fowler was drafted by the Rockies in the 14th round of the 2004 draft. Since reaching the majors in '09 as a 22 year-old, Fowler has played in at least 125 games per season and batted .260 or higher. His 163 game average line is .270/.365/.423 with 10 homers, 51 RBI, 29 doubles and 20 steals. Fowler is also a triples machine. In 2010, he led the league in triples with 14, and he ranked in MLB's top five from 2009 to 2012.
There's no doubt Fowler is a solid starting outfielder that most teams would be happy to have. Nonetheless, several questions still remain. After struggling with multiple hand injuries and a knee injury last year, Fowler will be healthy and hungry for the 2014 season. Wherever he winds up playing, Fowler will make $7.35 million this season. Will he start the year in powder blue, and will he be worth the price?
5. Does Fowler make sense for KC's outfield?
If Fowler does begin the season as a Royal, would he really replace Gold Glove nominee Lorenzo Cain in center field? Probably not. Although Fowler is long-legged and athletic, his time in Coors Field was defensively unimpressive. His career UZR in the very spacious Coors Field outfield was -40.6. Compare that to the 20 UZR posted by Cain last year, and it seems clear that moving Fowler to right field would be KC's best option.
4. Where would he bat in the lineup?
The ability to bat lead-off is another asset that makes Fowler attractive, especially to the Royals. Alex Gordon is a steady bat at the top spot, but KC would love to have their first pure lead-off hitter in years. Fowler has started 357 games batting lead-off and put up a .271/.368/.429 line in that spot.
3. Is Fowler really better than the alternatives?
If Fowler joins the Royals it's assumed he'll be replacing a combination of Justin Maxwell and David Lough in right field. Maxwell actually hit .268 with five HR and 17 RBI in only 35 games with KC last season. This can't be trusted through an entire season, though; Maxwell's 162 game average shows a batting average that drops .040 points and an RBI total of only 52. Maxwell's career numbers indicate that he may be similar to Fowler against RHP but struggles against lefties.
In 2013, the Royals split time in right between Maxwell and David Lough. Lough may project to have a higher average through a full season than Fowler, but he comes with about half as much power. Last year, Lough recorded a .286/.311/.413 line in 96 games as a Royal, with five HR and 33 RBI.
Fowler would still be a marginal upgrade from the best we can expect from Lough and Maxwell, but reliability is the key. Fowler has consistently put up solid offensive numbers in four straight seasons prior to his health problems in 2013. The Royals can expect a solid average, a little bit of pop and a healthy amount of doubles from Fowler every single season if they decide to bring him to KC.
2. Is Fowler more valuable than the player KC would trade to get him?
If Fowler starts his year in KC, he would have hypothetically been traded for one of the Royals' relievers that are currently being shopped. Wade Davis would be the best trade option from the Royals' standpoint, but the Rockies may want to go with a cheaper commitment in Aaron Crow or Tim Collins.
1. Will Fowler be worth the money?
This will be the last season of a two-year, $11 million contract that Fowler signed with Colorado. His $5,500,000 yearly salary makes him the 11th highest-paid center fielder in MLB according to Spotrac.com.
His earnings are close to par for his performance. Most center fielders making more than him have consistently better offensive numbers, but Fowler's 2012 production is similar to that of some higher-paid players like Michael Bourne, Angel Pagan and Coco Crisp.
All in all, bringing Fowler to KC would make sense, but it wouldn't be game-changing. If he can be had for one of the Royals' expendable relievers Fowler could be a nice pick-up, but he won't solve all of KC's offensive woes. To make a marked improvement on offense Kansas City would have to trade for Fowler and bring in another influential bat in whatever way possible.