DENVER -- Various teams' pursuits of free-agent center fielders Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton could determine whether the Rockies will receive serious trade inquiries for center fielder Dexter Fowler, baseball sources told MLB.com on Tuesday.The Rockies insist they aren't shopping Fowler, who made $2.35 million last year and is arbitration-eligible for two more years. But the Rockies are listening, and several teams -- the Braves, Phillies and Rays, especially -- could be calling. The Rockies' search for a dependable starting pitcher could allow them to listen to offers for Fowler, who hit .300 with career highs in home runs (13) and RBIs (53) last season. If the Phillies strike out on the free-agent market, with Upton considered the top target but Bourn in a group right behind, they could end up calling the Rockies about Fowler. The Denver Post reported Tuesday that the Braves, who employed Bourn last year, are pursuing Upton as a free agent but could call the Rockies about Fowler as a backup plan. The Rays, who employed Upton before he went to free agency, also could end up talking to the Rockies about Fowler, although the Rays are believed to be in more of a listening mode than an inquiring mode. The Rockies' young, relatively inexpensive roster could help make a deal possible. The acquisition of big corner infielder Ryan Wheeler from the D-backs last week for lefty reliever Matt Reynolds adds to the number of young players who will be under club control for years to come. To deal Fowler, the Rockies will have to receive pitching as part of the package. That's why the Braves (Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Tommy Hanson), Phillies (Vance Worley, Ethan Martin, Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone) and Rays (Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, Cesar Ramos and any number of prospects) are considered the top possibilities.
Experienced starter on Rockies' wish list
DENVER -- The Rockies continue their search for a starting pitcher whose performance they can predict.
They continue to talk with Jeff Francis, a left-hander who pitched successfully for the Rockies before going to the Royals in 2011 and returning to Colorado during last season. The Denver Post also reported that the Rockies are talking to right-hander Kevin Correia, a right-hander who has had success against them in the past with the Giants and Pirates.The Rockies also head into the season with a potential bullpen need -- a left-hander who can either pitch at length or work as a specialist. However, that hole could be filled by Josh Outman, who is 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA in six starts in the Dominican Winter League. Outman is also a rotation possibility.
Rockies to take two-headed Meetings approach
DENVER -- Several key scouts are already in Denver meeting with general manager Dan O'Dowd, and O'Dowd and the scouting staff plan to stay in Denver during next week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations, new manager Walt Weiss and the entire coaching staff will be in Nashville and in contact with the scouts and O'Dowd.
O'Dowd and the scouts will have all of the information, reports and video of potential acquisitions on hand in Denver, and they will be able to contact any person from another team if needed.
Wheeler could grow into power hitter
DENVER -- Ryan Wheeler hit one home run in 109 Major League at-bats with the D-backs last year, and the most home runs he has hit in any of his four Minor League seasons is 15. However, the Rockies project plenty of power from Wheeler, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds."He's a guy that played for us in the Arizona Fall League [D-backs and Rockies prospects were on the same team, the Salt River Rafters], and our scouts and staff have always liked him," said Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations.
"We see him competing at third base, fitting in that mix, and he can play some first base and some outfield. He's a good guy for us to have, and our guys feel like he's going to develop some home run power."
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.