Orioles (finally) sign Dexter Fowler

The Orioles are an…interesting lot. They spent hundreds of millions to re-sign Chris Davis, Darren O’Day, and Matt Wieters. But they’ve been relatively quite elsewhere on the free agent market. That was until earlier this week as news broke they had (finally) signed Yovani Gallardo – maybe. More on that later. The two sides had been rumored to be negotiating for weeks.

But Gallardo wasn’t the only free agent linked to Baltimore over that span of time. Outfielder Dexter Fowler was also reportedly in negotiations with the Orioles and it seems that agreement is finally happening – for now.

The soon to be 30-year old represents the biggest addition to the Orioles this offseason (I can’t technically count Davis/O’Day/Wieters because they’re not technically additions since they were with the team last year).

I also apparently can’t count Yovani Gallardo just yet because something apparently came up during his medicals (Orioles gonna Orioles). A year or two ago, something similar happened with Grant Balfour and they chose not to sign him. We’ll have to wait to see if the Gallardo deal will suffer a similar fate. Given their history, we probably have to wait until the club officially announces the signing before we really start factoring Fowler into projections.

He played with the Cubs last year, providing them with 3.2 fWAR after hitting .250/.346/.411 with 17 home runs and 20 stolen bases. However, this offseason he became yet another casualty of the borked qualifying offer system. While he’s not an upper echelon outfielder, Fowler offers a nice combination of defense, OBP, and speed. He’s been about a 2+ win player for the last five years. While that’s not All-Star caliber, it’s still quite effective. And his career .363 OBP seems like something he can carry late into his career given his strong walk rates -double digits year in and year out with a career 12.4 BB%.

A 30-year old outfielder capable of playing center field that offers 15 HR, 15+ stolen base, and .350+ OBP potential should be getting much and more than three years and $35 million, yet here we are. The team that signed Fowler would be required to forfeit their highest unprotected draft pick – in this case, either the 14th or 29th overall pick for the Orioles depending on whether the Gallardo deal is dead or not. And that was enough to cross him off a lot of teams lists. Spring Training starts next week and Fowler is just signing now. It’s so stupid.

But Fowler’s loss is the Orioles’ gain – sort of. He undeniably makes them better. They now have a lineup that will look something like this: Dexter Fowler, Hyun Soo Kim/Nolan Reimold, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Matt Weiters, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, JJ Hardy, and Jonathan Schoop. That’s a pretty competent offense.

Unfortunately, their rotation looks something like this: Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright. Maybe add Yovani Gallardo.

I’m sorry, but that does not look like a playoff team to me. Perhaps if the bullpen – which isn’t bad – can save the rotation and the team can surprise people. But now we’re getting into hope and rationalization. And if Gallardo isn’t in the mix, that rotation is probably beyond redemption. The Orioles have spent just tons of money to get right back where they were last year: a third place team.


Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs

About Derek Harvey

Derek Harvey is a writer The Outside Corner, a featured writer for SB Nation's Brew Crew Ball, and a staff writer for Baseball Prospectus - Milwaukee. He's taking over the world one baseball site at a time!