Cardinals set to sign Dexter Fowler

KSDK’s Frank Cusumano was the first that I saw on the case with the news that Dexter Fowler was coming to St. Louis for a physical. That could mean only one thing, a deal was imminent. John Mozeliak will get his man after Derrick Goold reported Mozeliak went “over the top” in order to ensure that Fowler would sign with the Cardinals.

Per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the deal is done and, as long as the physical goes off without a hitch tomorrow, there’s already a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning.

The actual terms of the deal are still unknown, but Jon Heyman has reported the deal to be for five years and between $80 and 90 million. That’s a span of $16 million to $18 million in average annual value.

The question that fans have now is whether Fowler is worth it. I say yes for multiple reasons.

He was the player the Cardinals needed

Beyond all the talk about dollars, on field performance, and value, he was the player that the Cardinals needed to get. They needed to add an outfielder and Fowler was the best available in free agency. When it became obvious that a trade for someone like Adam Eaton or Lorenzo Cain wasn’t going to happen, they needed to get Fowler.

And to Mozeliak’s credit, he put enough money on the table to get Fowler to sign on the dotted line before another team had the chance. Given my article from this morning, I’m taking credit for that.

His offensive credentials are better than Jason Heyward’s

Last winter the Cardinals put a 10 year, $200 million offer on the table for Jason Heyward before he turned it down to play in Chicago. By all reports, Fowler’s deal will be half as long and less than half the money. Fowler is three years older, but the deal is five years shorter. Much less of a commitment here.

Fowler might not have the reputation for being the same five tool capable player that Heyward is, but he has plenty of tools himself. He has power, hitting 30 home runs over the last two seasons. He has speed, with 15 triples over the past two seasons and is a stolen base threat. He’s shown a couple times that he can hit for average and get on base.

Over the past three seasons, Fowler has hit .266/.369/.419 with 132 extra base hits in 397 games. In that same time span, Heyward hit .265/.339/.383 with 125 extra base hits in 445 games.

Fowler has even been more consistent, posting an OPS+ above league average in each of the last six seasons. Heyward can only say he’s done that in four of the last six seasons.

I still question whether he’s a center fielder, but he should be good enough. And there’s still hope that they’ll play Fowler in left and Randal Grichuk in center, right?

He makes the lineup better

Last season Fowler hit .390/.483/.720 when leading off a game, all led the league. Signing Fowler gives the Cardinals a legitimate option to take over in the leadoff spot and move Matt Carpenter back in the lineup where he belongs.

That helps make the Cardinals’ lineup deeper and anything that can be done to improve that is a good thing.