Sep 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; General view of a base before a game between the Houston Astros and the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Trade Dexter Fowler to…Chicago Cubs by Eric Huysman
Trade Dexter Fowler to…San Francisco Giants by Jason Burke
Trade Dexter Fowler to…New York Mets by Thomas O’Banion
Trade Dexter Fowler to…Tampa Bay Rays by Ryan Gonzalez (12:30 am)
Trade Dexter Fowler to…Washington Nationals by Andy Brown (2:00 pm)
This is part 3 of the “Trade Dexter Fowler to…” series.
Let me start by saying that I like Dexter Fowler. I like what his bat brings to the Houston Astros and I like that he is a mentor to George Springer. However, it seems that Fowler has become expendable with the Evan Gattis deal, assuming that Gattis takes LF.
Trading Fowler away presents a problem in that you have to find a team that needs a speedy outfielder that can get on base and set the table for the guys behind him. That team, in my scenario, is the New York Mets.
The Mets starting outfield looks like this (2014 stats: BA/OBP/SLG):
LF – Curtis Granderson (.227/.326/.388)
CF – Juan Lagares (.281/.321/.382)
RF – Michael Cuddyer (.332/.376/.579)
Lagares, at age 25, is young and has only played in 2 seasons, and he improved in nearly all offensive categories in 2014. Granderson, on the other hand, will be 34 in March, and while he was once a star, appears to be on the downhill slide as he has seen his BA and SLG% slip for 3 consecutive seasons.
Compare Granderson’s line to Fowler, who batted .276/.375/.399 in 2014 (BA and OBP were above career averages). And Fowler will only be 29 on Opening Day.
The Mets are also hurting at the catching position. The backup, Anthony Recker, was atrocious last season, posting a .201/.276/.374 line (career: .197/.265/.360). Carlos Corporan, while not a major upgrade, posted better numbers last year, .235/.302/.376 (career: .226/.286/.350), and is about about the same age.
So, who should the Astros seek out in return?
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The one glaring area Houston has not improved at all this offseason is the starting rotation. With the departure of Mike Foltynewicz, who may have had a shot at the 5th spot, there is an immediate void to fill. Not to mention that Dallas Keuchel was the only Astros pitcher to pitch 200 innings AND post a sub-3.00 ERA (2.93). Scott Feldman was the only other pitcher with over 180 innings (180.1), and Collin McHugh was the only Astro with more than 150 Ks (157). Houston needs help now.
Apparently, the Mets have a plethora of starting pitching on their hands. Ace Matt Harvey is slated to return from Tommy John surgery this year. Jacob deGrom, who won the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, is there, too. Those two are presumably untouchable. Other NYM starters include:
Dillon Gee is supposedly the odd man out here, but the Astros should aim for Jon Niese.
Niese, 28, was solid for the Mets last year, posting a 3.40 ERA with 138 Ks in 187.2 innings. In Houston, he could be the #3 or #4 guy, which Jeff Luhnow said he is trying to bolster. Niese addresses the innings pitched issue, he has a solid ERA (3.87 career), and his strikeout per 9 innings in 2014 was 6.6 (7.2 career), tying him with Keuchel for 2nd best on the Astros among SPs with 150+ innings. According to fan/blogger, Daniel McCarthy, the lefty could be more than meets the eye.
Fowler may be able to fetch another player, and P prospect Rafael Montero, could be worth chasing. Montero, 24, appeared in 10 games last year for the Mets, posting a 4.06 ERA with 42 Ks in 44.1 innings. At AAA Las Vegas, Montero posted a 3.31 ERA in 169 innings, 158/59 K/BB. He is the 8th ranked prospect in the NYM organization, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
So, there is my trade scenario:
Astros trade: OF Dexter Fowler and C Carlos Corporan
Mets trade: SP Jon Niese and P Rafael Montero
The Astros alleviate the overloaded positions at OF and C, and they get a starting pitcher and a solid prospect in return. The Mets upgrade 2 positions at the MLB level and open a spot in their crowded starting rotation. This could be a win-win for both clubs.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.