For a fan base that had been craving a substantial acquisition since Jason Heyward opted to sign with the Cubs last December, a sweet satisfaction was delivered on Friday, when the Cardinals publicly announced their signing of former Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million deal, which features a full no-trade clause that will keep him in the Gateway City through the 2021 season.
Adam Wainwright extended a public welcome to newest Cardinal via Twitter on Friday evening.
Fowler was a key member of the 2016 Cubs, serving as an ideal table setter for a Chicago lineup backloaded with power. Fowler’s .393 on-base percentage through 125 games (he was on the DL for over a month with right hamstring discomfort) was the sixth-highest in the National League and tops on the Cubs by nearly ten points.
In an act of class, the Cubs took to social media to bid farewell to the center fielder who was a key piece of their recent championship run.
The leadoff spot in St. Louis's batting order has been primarily occupied by Matt Carpenter over the previous handful of seasons, and, when talks of moving him lower in the lineup surface, a common argument surfaces, too: why mess with a good thing?
Nevertheless, that same argument can now be more appropriately applied to Fowler, who proved himself as a fine leadoff hitter while playing on the North Side of the Windy City. As the opening batter in games during the 2016 season, Fowler went 39-for-100 with a .483 on-base percentage, .720 slugging percentage, and fifteen walks to 23 strikeouts. Having Fowler will allow the Cardinals to lower Carpenter in the batting order and not sacrifice the overall well-being of the offensive system, the largest gamble that was taken when Carpenter was moved from his native leadoff spot in the past.
The addition of Fowler will allow the Cardinals to shape their outfield to a more favorable alignment. The Cardinals will place Fowler and his career .984 fielding percentage in center field in that very position and place Randal Grichuk to his right and Stephen Piscotty to his left. Grichuk, though his pure athleticism would be a solid foundation to play any of the three outfield positions, projects better as a left fielder, while Piscotty exhibited respectable fieldwork as the team's main right fielder in 2016.
The 30-year-old Fowler certainly has a lot to smile about these days. With an All-Star selection, a World Series ring, and an all-around friendly contract being attached to his name this year, Fowler is thriving. And, to top it off, one always feels good when they look good, right?
Well, Mr. Fowler is looking good.
I look pretty good in red pic.twitter.com/rKklmXZsNH— Dexter Fowler (@DexterFowler) December 9, 2016