The Houston Astros have acquired center fielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named later from the Colorado Rockies in return for outfielder Brandon Barnes and right-hander Jordan Lyles, the team has announced.
The Rockies had been shopping Fowler for some time, so it was really only a matter of time before they found a new home for him. Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd expressed last month that Fowler lacked the "edge" he wants to see from his players, something the Astros apparently have no problem with.
Fowler, 27, brought out his boomstick early on in 2013, but his power disappeared as the year went on. The switch-hitting outfielder launched eight home runs over 112 plate appearances in April, then could only muster four more in his final 380 trips to the plate. Despite his summer power outage, Fowler still put together a solid year at the plate, batting .263/.369/.407 in 119 games overall.
A Super Two player entering his third year of arbitration, Fowler will man center field for the Astros for at least the next two seasons. He signed a two-year, $11.6 million deal with Colorado before the 2013 season, so he's already under contract for $7.35 million next season, making him easily Houston's highest-paid player.
Barnes, 27, established himself as the Astros' everyday center fielder last season, but will likely move into a fourth outfielder role with the Rockies. The early assumption is that Fowler's departure opens the door for Carlos Gonzalez to move back into center for Colorado, where his bat will provide more value.
More of a defense-only guy than defense-first, Barnes hit just .240/.289/.346 with eight home runs in 136 games for the Astros in 2013. Obviously, those numbers will play up a bit in Coors Field, but probably not enough to warrant a full-time role.
The final known piece of the trade pie, Lyles, is a young starter who hasn't had much luck in his first few attempts at joining a big-league rotation. The 23-year-old right-hander owns a 5.35 ERA in 377 innings over parts of three seasons with Houston, never once turning in an earned-run average under 5.00. Though he's just joined Colorado, he's already drawing interest from other clubs, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, so his time in Denver could be short. For now, however, he'll probably slot into the back of the club's rotation.