In the vein of old-fashioned baseball trades: How about Dexter Fowler for Homer Bailey?
We know this much, from major-league sources: The Colorado Rockies like Bailey, the right-hander who looked like a legitimate No. 2 starter for long stretches of this year. The Cincinnati Reds like Fowler, the antidote to their worst-in-the-majors .581 OPS from the leadoff spot. Now the question is whether the mutual interest crystallizes into trade discussions during this week’s winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
On a very basic level, the fit is there: The Rockies are desperate to improve their pitching staff and have had trouble luring free-agent starters to Coors Field. After a season in which many of their homegrown starters struggled as the team posted the worst ERA in the majors, the Rockies may have little choice but to trade from a position of strength. The Reds need at least one more outfielder but have said they are close to their payroll limit — thus rendering them spectators in the Michael Bourn sweepstakes.
And the Reds just happen to have a surplus of starting pitchers, provided Aroldis Chapman succeeds in his transition to the rotation.
The talks could be helped along by the fact that Bailey and Fowler earn comparable salaries. According to the MLBTradeRumors.com arbitration calculator, Bailey is projected to earn $5.1 million in 2013, Fowler $4 million. Bailey is on track to become a free agent after the 2014 season, Fowler after 2015.
Both players are coming off career-best seasons. Rival teams have said the asking price is exceedingly high for Fowler, the switch-hitting center fielder who amassed an .863 OPS this year. Bailey inched closer to his considerable potential this year, making 33 starts and surpassing the 200-inning mark for the first time while cutting his ERA to 3.68.
The Reds are considering a number of alternatives for their outfield, including free agents Ryan Ludwick and Cody Ross. One source suggested they may be reluctant to commit to Fowler in center field for the long term knowing that the dynamic prospect Billy Hamilton is on the verge of breaking into the majors. Yet, it is hard to fathom a better fit than Fowler if the Reds want to address their lack of production in center field and at the leadoff spot with a single move.
— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal