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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Hot Stove: Dexter Fowler talk

By Richard Durrett

I've received emails asking about some possible trade targets for the Texas Rangers and a few of you have asked about Dexter Fowler (by the way, if you've got some questions and trade targets, feel free to email me at rdurrettjr@aol.com). Fowler, who turns 27 in March, would be a center field option. He showed promise offensively in 2012.

Fowler hit .300 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in 2012 for the Colorado Rockies. That doesn't exactly provide a ton of power for the Rangers, but it would give them someone who showed they could get on base -- .389 on-base percentage -- and had a .863 OPS. He stole 16 bases last season as well. His 2.6 WAR was the best of his career, by the way. Fowler played 143 games in 2012 and 131 of those were in center field. He had a .978 fielding percentage and made six errors in center field.

He's switch-hitter, which certainly has some appeal, and he's under club control through 2015. But he'll get a raise through arbitration from his $2.35 million salary last year. ESPN.com's Jason Churchill guesses that's about $6 million.

Fowler could be one of those guys that is on the market after the other "bigger" center field free agents and trade possibilities head elsewhere. The Rockies, according to some reports, want pitching with upside. Perhaps something like Martin Perez or Cody Buckel, though it's unclear if that's enough to get a deal done.

Honestly, I question if Fowler is worth more than one top-flight pitching prospect. He probably has more upside than Craig Gentry, but how much more? Gentry had 214 fewer at-bats than Fowler and drove in 26 RBIs and had 13 stolen bases. With more playing time, Gentry's numbers could look similiar, except for the home runs. Gentry hit .304 this season, by the way.

I'm intrigued by the fact that Fowler is a switch-hitter and has more of a track record than Gentry, but I'm hesitant to part with some pitching prospects that could be keys in other deals for potentially better players. I'm more inclined to see what Leonys Martin or even Gentry could do with smoe more playing time. But that's just me. Perhaps I'm underplaying Fowler's upside.

What do you think? Judging from my emails, some of you are interested in Fowler as an outfield option. What are you willing to give up for him?