Fowler on trade: 'It came as a surprise'
The Astros have made their first big trade of the offseason.
The club has acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named later from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for outfielder Brandon Barnes and right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles. Although Fowler was surprised when he got the call from the Rockies about the trade, he’s excited about the opportunity.
“It’s bittersweet because the Rockies drafted me, so I’m definitely thankful that they drafted me and took that chance so I could get my career started,” said Fowler. “Getting traded you always look at like it’s a new beginning.”
Fowler was drafted by the Rockies in the 14th round of the 2004 Major League Draft out of Milton High School in Alpharetta, Ga., and made his major league debut on Sept. 2, 2008. He’s spent his whole career so far with the Rockies where the switch-hitter compiled a .270 average with a .365 on-base percentage in 667 big league games. His .369 on-base pct. as a leadoff hitter since 2009 ranks third in the National League during that span. Fowler has been the Rockies’ main center fielder for the last five seasons.
“I’ve played center field only,” Fowler said. “That’s my home, so I don’t know anything else. I definitely want to play center and going to try to go out there and be the every-day center fielder as I think they brought me on to be.”
The Astros have spent the past couple years building the farm system, but general manager Jeff Luhnow said they also want to bring players in this year to immediately help the team and to spark the offense as well as help on defense.
“He can play a very good defensive center and he’s got a career on-base percentage which is very, very high,” Luhnow said. “He’s a very good all-around player who’s going to play a premium position, which is definitely going to help us next year.”
Luhnow, who prefers players who are flexible with where they can play, isn’t worried about Astros top prospect, outfielder George Springer’s path to the majors.
“He (Springer) can play a lot of different positions,” Luhnow said. “He’s a legitimate 5-tool player. I’m not worried about that.”
And Fowler doesn’t seem too worried about coming to a team that has lost over 100 games each of the last three seasons and one that’s in rebuilding mode.
“There are definitely challenges, but at the same time you just got to look at the positives,” Fowler said. “You’ve got young guys here and they’re eager to win and they’re eager to put their imprint into the game and that’s awesome.
“I’m excited to get started and help nurture those guys – anything I can do to help. I’m just going to go out and play hard every day and I’m sure we’ll definitely see the tides turn.”
As tight as the baseball world is, Fowler said he doesn’t have any ties to the Astros.
“No, it’s a totally new team for me. I played against Bo (Porter) and sat down and talked with Bo for a little bit in past years. I like Bo. Bo is a good guy. He’s eager to win as well and that’s all you can ask for.”
Fowler began his 2013 season with the Rockies playing like an All-Star, but then he landed on the disabled list after suffering a hand injury that turned into a wrist injury. He then injured his knee in late August and battled that injury the rest of the season, but he seems to be fine now.
“I’m awesome,” Fowler said. “I’m healthy and ready to go.”
He’s also ready for the warm weather and playing in center field with Tal’s Hill.
“I played in the biggest yard in the MLB,” Fowler said. “I don’t think anything is as challenging as Coors is. I haven’t seen a hill that I couldn’t climb. I’m excited to play out there.”