DALLAS - Add the Colorado Rockies to the list of teams that have apparently connected with the Nationals about an outfielder at the Winter Meetings. The question is, who on the Rockies’ roster are the Nationals targeting.
If the Nationals wanted to fill their need for a fleet center fielder who can lead off and play strong defense, Dexter Fowler would probably be the best match. There’s one problem with that line of thinking: Fowler apparently isn’t available, and even if he were, the Nationals would have to pay dearly for the 25-year-old, who would be under team control through 2015. Fowler hit .266 with five homers, a career-high 45 RBIs and a career-low 12 stolen bases in 125 games last season.
Perhaps the Nationals are girding for the possibility that they will solve their center field dilemma by moving Jayson Werth there from right field. In that possibility, there are a couple of Rockies who might be a fit as a corner outfielder, and the Nats probably can just wait for Colorado to non-tender veteran Ryan Spilborgs, a 32-year-old who slumped to career lows of .210, three homers and 22 RBIs in 2010 after putting up five straight solid seasons. But the Rockies’ outfield is crowded and Spilborghs, who just ended a two-year, $3,25 million deal, might be the odd man out.
It’s a better bet the Nats are gauging the availability of Seth Smith, a 29-year-old left-handed hitter who has been mostly a platoon player in Colorado and never gotten a chance to compete regularly against southpaws. For his five-year career, Smith is 43-for-213 (.202) against lefties and 311-for-1,072 (.290) against righties. He’s hit 47 of his 51 career homers off right-handers, and could fit Nats manager Davey Johnson’s need for a bench player with some pop.
Smith made only $429,000 last season and is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason. He may be in line for a raise upwards of $2.6 million after hitting .284 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs.
The Rockies’ needs are many: a left-handed starter, a second baseman, an outfielder, a third baseman and some left-handed bullpen help.