August 13, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) hits a single during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Dexter Fowler Signs Extension, Avoids Arbitration

The pitchers and catchers are in the house. They start baseball activities tomorrow. The rest of the Colorado Rockies are gearing up, filming commercials and getting ready to start Spring Training. Today they tied up their final loose end, signing center fielder Dexter Fowler to an extension and avoiding arbitration.

Because Fowler is a “super two” player, this means he is under team control for at least the next three years; the two years of this deal plus one additional year after that. Fowler turns 27 in March. This deal ensures, therefore, that he will spend the years that typically make up a player’s prime (ages 27-30) in Colorado.

Is it safe to say that the Rockies are focusing on “peace of mind” as a prevailing concept this season? Last year, the clubhouse culture ballyhoo notwithstanding, the team challenged its talented but underachieving players. You might call it “tough love,” or you might just call it tough.

They called out Jhoulys Chacin in the local paper about his conditioning. They made Dexter Fowler earn his spot in center field. When he didn’t, they switched his spot in the lineup and then benched him for a number of games. In prior seasons they sent Fowler to AAA. Those decisions had merit, but the tone was brutal. It seems like Fowler has finally earned a certain measure of peace of mind. He got paid and he no longer has to worry about his spot in the lineup. Period.

Fowler fits what the Rockies need in so many ways. He is a plus defender who can handle the vast outfield in Coors Field. With a lineup that needs to out-slug opponents, Fowler’s production in the lead-off spot will be a huge asset. Forget the prototypical lead-off hitter and forget stealing bases (even if Fowler is fast once he gets going). Fewer base-running mistakes and more of that +.800 OPS, please.

This contract is the right length and the right amount of money. If Fowler continues his outstanding play from last season, the money will become a bargain. Chalk this one up as a success for the front office.

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