May 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler (21) drives in two runs with a base hit against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox trade target: Dexter Fowler

The departure of Jacoby Ellsbury left a gaping hole both in center field and at the top of the Red Sox’ lineup and his absence has shown in the early going. The Red Sox’ outfield has been among the worst in the majors and a lack of production from center field has been a big part of that. Prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. has not held down the spot well at all, slashing just .209/.291/.301 (though he is coming off two good games), and other options such as Grady Sizemore have not gotten the job done either. The Red Sox should look to address their vacancy in center field in the coming months and a candidate that could both play center field and hit at the top of the order is Dexter Fowler.

Fowler is in the midst of his first season with the Houston Astros and, while he has not been spectacular by any means, he has been a solid contributor at the top of a weak Houston lineup. Through 50 games this year, Fowler has hit .263/.377/.366 with 3 home runs and 6 stolen bases. Fowler’s power and speed have dropped from his career bests (13 home runs, .174 isolated power in 2012 and 27 stolen bases in 2009), but he is walking at a 15% rate this season, the highest walk rate of his career and his .377 on-base percentage is slightly better than his .366 career mark.

Even if Fowler’s production isn’t great, however, it’s significantly better than anybody else the Red Sox have had in the outfield this season. Previously-mentioned Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore have struggled while Daniel Nava and Mike Carp are failing to live up to their 2013 breakout years and Shane Victorino has been injured for much of the season. In Fowler, the Red Sox would receive a bona fide leadoff hitter and a center fielder who plays adequate defense (though admittedly not on the level of Bradley Jr.).

The Astros have the worst record in the American League this season and should be in sell-mode come June or July, so the Red Sox shouldn’t have much trouble acquiring Fowler should they pay the price. The question is simply what that price will be.

While Fowler is a solid player and does have a year of team control after 2014, he would not likely be hugely expensive for the Red Sox. One of Boston’s high-ceiling pitching prospects would likely be enough to net the 28-year old outfielder. Perhaps the Red Sox could send Rubby de la Rosa, who is pitching to the tune of a 3.04 ERA while trimming his walk rate to 3.9 BB/9 (well below his 5.4 mark a season ago), and throw in Mike Carp. The Astros would be able to give both players regular playing time, which could help De La Rosa to cash in on his once promising potential and potentially allow Carp to return to his 2013 form, when he slashed .296/.362/.523.

Acquiring Fowler would not push the Red Sox over the top by any means; however, it could add a valuable piece to the team. He would strengthen a handful of the Red Sox’ greatest weaknesses and could take kindly to Fenway Park’s righty-friendly dimensions. Expect the Red Sox to search for a leadoff hitter and a center fielder this trade season, and certainly look for them to take an interest in Dexter Fowler.

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  • Willy

    There are a couple of problems with this scenario, 1. the Sox are Only looking for a part-time/platoon partner to play along with Jackie. 2. The Astros try to only trade older players or pending Free Agents, not young players, especially ones they’ve recently acquired. They have little to no reason or motivation to trade Fowler. Ben also has little interest in trading away one of his future players for a player in Fowler they dont really need should Jackie finally come around and hit Lefty pitching well. That would be setting up a future trade and Ben never makes those kinds of moves. He is more likely to look at acquiring players like Denorfia, Reed Johnson, Stubbs, perhaps even; Hairston, Green, Barnes, Heisey, Mayberry Jr , Choice, Robertson, Garcia < should he decide to take on a player with term on his deal and potentially someone he would have to trade in the future.

    • Dale Sams

      Jackie cant hit righties or lefties.

      • Willy

        It doesnt matter, Ben has said publicly he’d like to find a RHH compliment for Jackie, that means he wants Jackie to stay, period.

        • Dale Sams

          Bradley is the only OFer who doesn’t need complementing. Gomes, Nava, Grady, Victorino are all hitting like platoon players

          • Willy

            How many times do I have to repeat myself, Im getting pissed by all you people that cant read. It was BEN CHERINGTON, not me, that said he’s looking for a RHH platoon partner.

          • Dale Sams

            Calm down dude.

  • John Finn Jr

    Fowler sounds like a clone of Bradley. Why even waste the money or prospects to get him ? The Red Sox, whether they get a new outfielder now or not will need an excellent hitting outfielder by next year; Excellent not as in Nava, Gomes, Carp Sizemore, but with 30 homerun, 100 RBI potential. Fowler would just be another addition to the stockpile of outfielders that they have now. Just a waste of time. I also think that Bradley needs to learn to hit major league pitching and he cannot learn that in the minors.

  • Harry Baxter

    Sox already have a leadoff man. His name is Brock Holt.