Trade rumors have been swirling around Dexter Fowler for a while now and the Rockies have sent the center fielder to the Astros in exchange for right-hander Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes.
Fowler is 27 years old with two seasons remaining before free agency and the Astros’ payroll is so low that the fact he’s getting expensive probably doesn’t matter to them. His lack of production away from Coors Field is a more important issue, because for his career Fowler has hit just .241 with a .694 OPS on the road compared to .298 with an .880 OPS in Colorado.
Lyles gives the Rockies a potential mid-rotation starter long term, although the former first-round pick struggled through age 22 with a 5.35 ERA in 377 innings. Barnes is little more than a backup outfielder and hit just .240 with a .635 OPS and horrible plate discipline in the first extended action of his career this year at age 27, but he gives the Rockies a possible center field fill-in if they decide not to shift Carlos Gonzalez from a corner spot.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.