Blue Jays rumors: Toronto talking Dexter Fowler trade with Astros
After the Toronto Blue Jays made some interesting decisions in non-tendering both Andy Dirks and John Mayberry Jr. on Tuesday night, the team is left with just Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, and Jose Bautista as outfielders on the 40-man roster. However, another move may be in the works, and Jon Morosi at Fox Sports is noting that the solution may be coming via the Houston Astros in the form of Dexter Fowler.
Fowler was acquired by the Houston Astros prior to the 2014 season from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles, however he is third-year arbitration eligible and coming off a season in which he made $7.35 million. Given that Fowler is expected to make $9 million via the arbitration process, the Astros could be looking to shed a little bit of payroll.
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That’s where the Blue Jays enter the picture. After non-tendering the trio of Dirks, Mayberrry, and Justin Smoak, Toronto is expected to save roughly $6.25 million on those arbitration eligible players. That sheds the necessary payroll to add an outfielder like Dexter Fowler into the fold.
So what exactly would the Blue Jays be getting in Fowler, should they acquire him?
Fowler is a 28-year-old switch-hitter that has spent the majority of his career patrolling center field for the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros. However, he doesn’t grade out well in center, given his career UZR/150 of -14.4 and Defensive Runs Saved of -44. That was exasperated in 2014, when he put up a -36.2 UZR/150 and a -20 DRS in 959 innings of work in center. With the supreme defensive presence of Dalton Pompey to man center field, the Blue Jays would look to move Fowler to left field.
However, defensive abilities aside, this move would also be able Fowler’s bat. A 7-year veteran, Fowler owns a .271/.366/.419 slash-line and a wRC+ of 106. He is also a switch-hitter, something the Blue Jays have been looking for with the expectation that Melky Cabrera will not be re-signing with the team. However, it should also be noted that Fowler is significantly better as a right-handed hitter than he is from the left side, as seen by the split below.
That all said, Fowler looks to be a bit over-valued and over-paid in this case. In 2014, FanGraphs shows that Fowler was worth $7.9 million, while making a salary of $7.35 million. Whether that truly translates to a $9 million player in 2015 is another story. Additionally, there is the cost of acquiring Fowler for what is a one-year rental on a player due to be a free agent in 2016. Morosi went as far as to say “if Pompey isn’t moved in the deal”, but that seems unlikely as it would create the same hole and remove the Blue Jays top positional prospect in the process. The team at Crawfish Boxes even opines that the Astros should ask for “at least” Daniel Norris for what is essentially one year of a 2-win player.
The best matches on the market continue to be both Nick Markakis, who the Blue Jays are rumored to be in on via Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and Nori Aoki, who the Blue Jays should be in on. Steamer has Aoki rated as a 1.5-win player in 2015, with a .279/.343/.371 slash-line and 18 stolen bases, whereas Fowler is expected to be worth 1.8 wins with a .246/.347/.375 slash with 11 home runs and 55 RBI. Given the costs involved, the long-term acquisition of Markakis or the lower price-tag on Aoki and the non-cost of prospects would be better served for Toronto than would picking up Fowler at this stage of his career.