MLB Winter Meetings: Dexter Fowler Not Worth It for Cincinnati Reds

Tyler DumaFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 15:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Colorado Rockies takes an at bat against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field on August 15, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Brewers 7-6.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The winter meetings are a hotbed for MLB trade rumors, and the Cincinnati Reds are no stranger to the rumor mill this time of year.

Last year shortly after the winter meetings, GM Walt Jocketty brought Mat Latos to Cincinnati in exchange for a sizable prospect haul. 

This year, the Reds are looking for outfield and leadoff help, and rumor has it they're interested in Colorado Rockies 26-year-old center fielder Dexter Fowler.

Fox Sports' John Morosi tweeted out an article of his about the situation today pondering the trade and whether negotiations might heat up between the Reds and Rockies.

Morosi and Reds beat writer John Fay have been two of the most active writers on the situation, and Fay in particular isn't overly fond of the move.

In his article, Fay acknowledges that Fowler in theory, makes sense for the Reds considering their needs both in the outfield and at the top of their lineup. However, with Homer Bailey being the rumored return package, Fay argues that this move would work against exactly what the Reds accomplished with the Mat Latos trade last winter.

Fay states that Bailey is "a lot like Latos" so why trade him?

As simple as the notion seems, it makes sense. The Reds sent off a major package for Latos so what service are the Reds doing themselves by trading away a similar asset to the one they traded for last off-season.

The Reds have worked hard to re-build their starting rotation through a blend of home-grown talent, trades for affordable talent (Mat Latos) and the signing of veteran Bronson Arroyo.


In the minds of fans, Mike Leake may not be the most attractive option for the Reds' rotation, but trading Bailey makes Leake the Reds fourth or fifth starter again in 2013.

In addition to the problem this deal poses for the starting rotation, it creates a problem for the direction of the team in general.

A closer look at Fowler's home/road splits would show that he's, at best, a marginal upgrade over Drew Stubbs in the outfield.

Dexter Fowler  G AB  AVG OBP SLG  OPS  2B 3B HR  R RBI
Home 272 920  .295  .395 .487 .882 57  30  20  182 120
Road 276  913  .248 .331 .367 .698 45  20  8 123 48

Many have cited Fowler's career .791 OPS as a reason to believe that he would succeed in Cincinnati. However, Fowler's OPS splits show that that value is largely driven up by an .882 mark at home.

Fowler's high SLG and OPS values come from his gap-to-gap power, which is best utilized at Coors Field.

The left-center and right-center field gaps at Coors Field measure 420 and 424 feet, respectively. In Cincinnati, those same gaps measure just 379 and 370 feet. Those additional 41 and 54 feet make a huge difference in Fowler's ability to stretch base hits into doubles and triples.


If Fowler's double and triple rates drop, his SLG and OPS percentages would follow.

Drew Stubbs is a .241/.312/.386 hitter in his career and in Cincinnati, Stubbs slash line is .263/.332/.441.

Comparing Fowler's career away from Coors Field to Stubbs career both at home and overall, shows that they're incredibly similar players.

Fowler is only 26, so there's still room for improvement over the next several years. The issue, though, is that the Reds will likely have to give up Homer Bailey, or one of their top young pitching prospects and a position player in order to get him.

The question remains, it really worth shipping off key pieces like Bailey, or mortgaging the future to upgrade center field by such a slim margin?