The corner outfielder the Orioles have been looking for since Nick Markakis left in 2014 is finally here. The O’s signed Dexter Fowler to a 3-year deal worth $35 million. He can easily slide into the top of the lineup and bat leadoff (88 walks, .346 OBP last season) which allows Manny to slide down in the lineup. Fowler isn’t the big name that we had hoped for like Cespedes or Upton, but he’s a perfect compliment to the team.
A tall, lanky, switch hitter, Fowler brings some more speed to this lineup, can steal bases (20 last season), should be able to set the table and get on base for the big swinging bats behind him. Fowler’s OBP would have been third highest on the team last season, and gives a big boost to an area that has hampered this team for years. He set his career high in homers last season with 17, but could easily surpass that if he can take advantage of the short porch in right field when batting from the left side.
This gives us an Orioles outfield of Hyun-Soo Kim in left, Gold Glover Adam Jones in center, and Dexter Fowler in right. This move gives the O’s some solid outfield depth with guys like Nolan Reimold, Dariel Alvarez, or Henry Urrutia battling for backup spots. Fowler is an obvious upgrade over anyone the O’s would have trotted out there.
Fowler was expected to get a pretty big deal heading into the offseason, that deal never came. I think the O’s got a steal in this deal. Very cheap for a guy with his his skill set. You know why I like the signing of Fowler even more? It means we won’t see Mark Trumbo in the outfield and can stick him at DH. In addition to Fowler, the O’s were also linked to names such as Jay Bruce, and Pedro Alvarez.
Because of the hold up with Yovani Gallardo’s physical, I’m not sure which draft pick the Orioles have to give up? Either the 14th or 29th, but both of those are worth it for Dexter. Totally fine with me. It’s late in the game, and there is nobody out there better at their position than Fowler. If they were going to give up their top pick for Gallardo, why not go out and sacrifice their next pick? Go big or go home. And if we’re being real, there is a good chance Fowler will be a better player than whoever the Orioles would have picked up with their pick, they don’t have the best history of drafting.
If you had said at the end of the season that the O’s would bring back Wieters, O’Day, and Davis, while adding guys like Fowler, Trumbo, I think we all would have signed up for that. It’s the most money this team has ever spent in an offseason, and shows that they are willing to give up some draft picks to improve the club and try and win NOW, which is what the team is trying to do. The pitching staff is still a weak spot on the club, adding Fowler improves the already impressive defense, and this offense should still be top 5 in the league. Just look at this lineup and tell me they can’t hit 250 home runs.
1. Dexter Fowler RF
2. Manny Machado 3B
3. Adam Jones CF
4. Chris Davis 1B
5. Mark Trumbo DH
6. Caleb Joseph/ Matt Wieters C
7. Jonathan Schoop 2B
8. Hyun-Soo Kim LF
9. JJ Hardy SS
This signing (plus hopefully Gallardo signing actually happens) should put them back into the mix for the A.L. East. I’m fully expecting bounce back seasons from guys like Chris Tillman and J.J. Hardy. If Miguel Gonzalez can be just a little better than he was last year, and Gausman starts to click, I think this team can be in position to make a playoff run.