NASHVLLE, Tenn. -- The Winter Meetings have thrust center fielder Dexter Fowler's name into the forefront of trade speculation, but multiple sources said Wednesday the Rockies are making it clear that that the price for such a player is high.
The Rockies see Fowler, who is heading into his age-27 season and is coming off his best season as a center fielder and leadoff hitter, as such a valuable asset that they won't deal him unless they end up with an impact player. If that player is a starting pitcher, all the better.
The best comparison, according to Major League sources, is the deal the club made after the 2008 season when it sent All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday to the Athletics and received outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, closer Huston Street and left-hander Greg Smith. Gonzalez has won a batting title, received two Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and has been an All-Star, while Street had a couple of mostly effective seasons as the club's closer.
Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations, didn't go into specific trade talks, but he did discuss the high regard the team has for Fowler.
"We're not in the posture of moving Dexter," Geivett said. "I would have to say that for us to get engaged in any type of serious talks on Dexter Fowler, they would have to come in here trying to take him away, almost."
Asked if there had been serious talks, he said, "People in their mind have been talking seriously. I don't think we've taken it seriously."
Media speculation has linked the Reds and the Rockies because Cincinnati's leadoff hitters finished last in the National League in batting average and on-base percentage. The team won the National League Central last year despite that, and a player like Fowler -- who hit .300 last year with a .389 on-base percentage -- could help the Reds reach the next level. Obtaining Fowler would mean the Reds would have a decision to make on Drew Stubbs, another speedy center fielder but one with high strikeouts.
To make such a deal, the Rockies could ask for a package that would involve right-handed pitcher Mike Leake, 25, a rising talent who has struck out 234 batters in 346 2/3 innings over the past two seasons, and possibly one of several power arms at the top of the club's farm system. Leake, headed into his fourth season, is the type of ground-ball pitcher who could help stabilize the Rockies' rotation.
However, the way the Rockies view Fowler, they would need a greater impact player -- someone who is a star or could become one, like Gonzalez -- to complete such a trade.
The Phillies also are in search of a center fielder, but it's not clear if there is a fit with the Rockies. The Rockies have long had interest in Rays pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis, but there's no guarantee the teams can swing a deal. One scenario offered by a source has Colorado using what it obtains in one trade to put together a package that could entice Tampa Bay to move. However, the Rays are in position to ask for a high price, so the odds may be against a deal with the Rockies.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.