Continuing a day of deals across Major League Baseball, the Colorado Rockies announced Tuesday that they have sent outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named later to the Houston Astros in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes.
Fowler added this after the trade was made official:
Fowler, 27, has been on the trade block almost since the moment the World Series ended. Dave Krieger of 850 KOA spoke to Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd in November, who indicated the team was open to shopping its talented leadoff hitter.
"I think it's fair to say we are more willing to listen to calls about Dexter than we might have been in the past," O'Dowd said. "He has a lot to prove this year within the industry. He's got to show up and he's got to do that."
The Rockies general manager also openly questioned Fowler's daily commitment, saying that he needs to get "tougher." Since that interview, multiple teams have been linked to the speedy outfielder, who hit .263 with 12 home runs and 19 stolen bases in 2013, hoping to buy low on a productive young player still yet to hit his prime.
While a deal was expected at some point, the still-rebuilding Astros are a somewhat shocking destination for him.
Barnes, 27, was a late bloomer and only came up for his first full major league season in 2013. A solid outfielder with above-average range, Barnes scuffled a bit at the plate at the end of Houston's lineup. He hit just .240/.289/.346 on the season with eight home runs and 41 RBI. He added 11 stolen bases but was caught just as many times.
The brightest spot of Barnes' season was when he hit for the cycle on July 19 against the Seattle Mariners. Speaking with Mark Berman of Fox26, Barnes indicated he was excited for the move despite some melancholy about leaving the only MLB home he's had:
Meanwhile, Lyles is considered the real coup for Colorado. The 23-year-old righty was Houston's No. 38 overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft and quickly began establishing himself among the most promising young pitchers in the minors. By 2011, MLB.com ranked Lyles as the No. 31 prospect in all of baseball, ahead of players like Jose Iglesias and Chris Archer.
Since making his debut for Houston in August of 2011, however, things haven't gone as planned. In 72 appearances over the past three seasons, Lyles has recorded a 14-29 record with a 5.35 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. His FIP indicates that he's gotten slightly unlucky, per FanGraphs, but not so much that a change of scenery will instantly make him an ace.
Nevertheless, the interest in adding someone with Lyles' stuff is palpable. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal has reported teams are already contacting the Rockies in an attempt to gauge their interest in flipping Lyles again:
For now, though, it seems Colorado is happy with its haul. The Rockies have long struggled to bring marquee pitchers into the rarefied air at Coors Field, and in Lyles they have a power arm who could still reach his promise.
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