The Orioles and Dexter Fowler are discussing a two-year, $24MM contract with an option, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. No word at this time if the two sides are nearing agreement or have only exchanged parameters.
Fowler, an on base threat with a career .363 OBP, would offer Baltimore much needed outfield and lineup depth. His presence would push Mark Trumbo to a much more comfortable designated hitter role. Fowler would also offer insurance – both in the field and atop the lineup – in case Korean import Hyun-soo Kim struggles to adjust to the majors.
Defensive metrics aren’t always a fan of Fowler’s work afield. For example, he posted -1.7 UZR last season but -21.8 UZR in 2014 (or if you prefer on a rate basis, -36.2 UZR/150). It’s worth noting that he’s spent his entire career in center field. Baltimore would likely use him in right or left field flanking Adam Jones. Even below average center fielders tend to be assets in the corners, and Fowler only needs to outperform the always shaky Trumbo to be a net defensive gain.
As mentioned, Fowler is an on base threat who could help to set the table for Jones, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado. His .346 OBP last season was one of the lowest of his career, but that mostly ties back to a career-worst .308 BABIP. He typically reaches base at a well above average rate on balls in play. His 12.2% walk rate was right in line with his career norms.
Notably, the Orioles have already agreed to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo earlier tonight. Both Fowler and Gallardo were extended a qualifying offer, meaning the O’s have to surrender a draft pick to sign them. If they ink Fowler, they’ll lose the 28th overall selection.