Reds interested in Dexter Fowler to fill leadoff spot

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The Reds aren’t willing to spend for Michael Bourn or Angel Pagan to upgrade from Drew Stubbs in center fielder, but there is a cheaper alternative available in trade: Colorado’s Dexter Fowler.

FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi reports that the Reds are interested in Fowler, while the Rockies happen to like Reds starter Homer Bailey. There’s no indication that the two sides have actually discussed a deal involving those two, but perhaps they will at the winter meetings beginning Monday.

A deal involving those two would seem to improve the Reds’ chances for 2013. Bailey emerged as a very good starting pitcher last year, but he has a history of arm problems and the Reds have Mike Leake available to step into his spot in the rotation. The difference between Leake and Bailey probably isn’t as great as the difference between Stubbs and Fowler.

The Rockies would probably want more than Bailey for their center fielder, but perhaps adding Stubbs to the deal would even it up in their eyes. They could take a one-year look at Stubbs and then go in a different direction if he fails to take a step forward.

There’s also a complication for the Reds; much of Fowler’s trade value is rooted in the fact that he’s under control through 2015. The Reds, though, should have Billy Hamilton ready to take over in center in 2014, and Fowler wouldn’t be all that valuable in a corner.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.