The Cincinnati Reds really, really need to acquire a leadoff hitter this offseason. You don't believe me? Well, the numbers speak for themselves. Reds leadoff hitters finished dead last in the National League last year in average (.208), on-base percentage (.254), OPS (.581), hits (146), stolen bases (10), and walks (37). Yes, one would be absolutely correct in saying that the biggest weakness of the team in 2012 was the top of the batting order. And since adding a serviceable leadoff man through free agency seems too pricey, executing a trade may be the only viable way for the Reds to get what they need.
With that in mind, here is one deal GM Walt Jocketty should consider if the other team is willing:
Mike Leake & Drew Stubbs to Colorado for Dexter Fowler
+ Leake, the 2009 first round pick by the Reds, has all the sudden become expendable due to the re-signing of closer Jonathan Broxton. Current closer Aroldis Chapman is expected to transition into the starting rotation, which leaves Leake on the outside looking in. Although not dominant, the right-hander has proved to be a decent guy to have on the staff. And at just 25-years old he still has plenty of potential to improve. Meanwhile, the Rockies are in desparate need for pitching after tallying the league's worst starter ERA last season at an astronomical 5.81. Leake may not be the guy to anchor their rotation, but he would certainly be a welcome addition.
The other part of the exchange would basically be a swap of center fielders. Cincinnati needs a guy at the top of their lineup that can get on base and the 26-year old Fowler has proven to be able to do that. The switch-hitter batted an even .300 with a .389 OBP in '12, which isn't too far off his career averages of .217 and .364, respectively. Fowler remains relatively inexpensive (for now) and is under team control through the end of 2016. All in all, Fowler would be a great addition to the reigning NL Central Champions.
Of course, this proposed deal would officially have the Reds cut ties with Stubbs. The club had high hopes for the University of Texas product when choosing him with their first round selection back in 2006. Unfortunately, Stubbs hasn't quite lived up to those. As his numbers indicate, the 27-year old has actually regressed across the board over the past three seasons. This deal would go against the old thinking of "buying low and selling high", but if the Reds want to seriously upgrade their odds of winning the World Series, they must find an alternative solution in center.
Perhaps a change of scenery would benefit everyone at this point anyway?