As the Houston Astros inch towards creating a roster which can actually compete, sorting out the outfield must be near the top of their to-do list, as I stated yesterday. With George Springer living up to his lofty expectations, it's fair to say he's the only definite in the outfield mix. Jake Marisnick is there too, but his defense, and consequential upside make him hard to move. That leaves Dexter Fowler. The man who can really hit, but really can't play defense.
Proposing to move Fowler may be sacrilege to some, necessary to others. Which begs the question: to trade, or to keep? It's a difficult one. His offensive production of late has been great, but he still isn't quite delivering the power many believe he is capable of. His defense, on the other hand, is downright awful. Among the worst in the game, in fact.
Offensively, Fowler is one of few players who can consistently get on base on the roster. He also possesses some nice power, which he hasn't ever truly shown, though. The scouts like him and the numbers like him, too. Fowler, last season, posted a wRC+ of 124, a wOBA of .347 with a slash line of .276/.375/.399. His OBP was brilliant, but slightly unsustainable. For next season, steamer project Fowler to post an OBP of .347, with a wRC+ of 109, which isn't bad.
His numbers are great. We all knew that, though. In such a metrics based franchise, a player with such incredible on base ability is hard to move. I'd assume some power is on it's way, too, with his undeniable pop off of the bat. In all honesty, poor defense has never really fussed me. I see it rather simply as: a bad defensive player is roughly worth minus one win during a season - based upon a DRS of -10. A great offensive player, is normally worth about three wins during the season - based upon a wRAA of around 30. I'm probably quite wrong, but hey.
If that's my opinion, then why would I ever advocate moving Fowler? Well, Fowler isn't a bad defensive player. He is woeful. His DRS of -20 ranked third last in all of baseball. By simply playing centre field, Fowler was worth a total of minus two wins, or two losses, to the team. His bat is great, but does it truly compensate for being worth two losses in the outfield? This is where advocating trading him makes sense.
That said, it isn't a simple: our centre fielder for next season, or we trade him. There are other possibilities. For example, one I really like, moving him to left field on trial basis. If his defensive production there isn't too bad, then all of a sudden, his bat becomes much, much more valuable. When he isn't losing two games playing the field, Fowler could be a 3.0 WAR player, potentially. However, while the idea is really nice, when someone is that bad on defense, moving to a different position may not solve anything.
Therefore, I'll be bold. Trade Dexter Fowler, Houston.I wrote about how Michael Morse is a great fit for the Astros. An outfield of Morse/Carter, Marisnick and Springer would be really nice. It could be the outfield of a winning team. I would sincerely miss Fowler, yes. But given his great offensive production, a nice return could be found. Losing his aforementioned on base ability would be tough. Losing his defense would be easy. All in all, losing Fowler: something I could live with. For the right price, of course.