The Blue Jays are expected to sign veteran center fielder Dexter Fowler to a minor league deal with an invite to the remainder of Major League Spring Training, tweets Keegan Matheson of MLB.com. Sportsnet’s Arash Madani first noted that Fowler, a client of Excel Sports Management, had a locker set up in the Jays’ clubhouse.
Fowler, who turned 36 last week, spent the 2021 season as a member of the Angels organization but played in only seven games. The Halos acquired the veteran switch-hitter from the Cardinals in a surprising February trade, but Fowler suffered a torn ACL in early April that required season-ending surgery. He went 5-for-20 in 21 plate appearances prior to the injury.
It’s been several years since Fowler has been at his best. Following an All-Star 2016 season with the Cubs, he signed a five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Cardinals to taake over as their primary center fielder. Fowler kicked that contract off with a strong 2017 season, hitting .264/.363/.488 with 18 homers, 22 doubles and nine triples but was limited to 118 games (wrist strain, bone spurs in his heel). His offense cratered the following season in a disappointing season that culminated with Fowler missing the final two months of play due to a broken foot. Fowler rebounded to an extent in 2019 when he posted a .238/.346/.409 batting line (103 wRC+) in 574 trips to the plate. He had another unspectacular season at the plate in 2020 before last year’s injury-ruined campaign.
All told, Fowler played in just 396 games and batted .234/.334/.406 through 1521 plate appearances over the life of that five-year contract — a signing the Cardinals surely regret. It’s a far cry from the .270/.370/.436 output that Fowler logged in his 2011-17 peak.
The Jays will hope that a healthier Fowler can play his way into a bench role and hit closer to that 2011-17 form than he did in 2018-21. Toronto’s outfield is quite full, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez and Raimel Tapia all locked into spots. Fowler has been better as a right-handed hitter than as a left-handed hitter throughout his career, but he still sports a respectable .251/.352/.416 slash when batting from the left side of the dish.
If he can prove his health and impress with the bat, Fowler would give the Jays some extra depth in their outfield mix, even if he has to start the season in Triple-A Buffalo. Gurriel, Hernandez and Springer have all had multiple stints on the IL over the past few seasons, so there’s little harm in stashing a veteran who can help to balance the lineup and serve as an option at all three outfield slots.
More lefty bench candidates!
Unless Fowler hits 10 homers in 10 at-bats the rest of the spring, he’s not making the roster. Probably an AAA depth piece.
Invite for a week? Sounds like he passed a physical or pending one, it’s a major league deal and a spot for him simply needs to be opened. He also stay for extended spring training
I’d be surprised if he accepts a AAA assignment. Probably look for another ML assignment or call it career.
It’s a minor league deal, he can’t refuse the assignment. It’s possible there’s an opt out at some date if he hasn’t been called up yet but none has been mentioned.
Fowler has always been good when he gets on base, problem is when is he healthy enough to get on base? Age is no longer on his side
Not bad depth in AAA. He can still draw a walk.
Never hurts to have an extra guy lefty guy that knows how to handle CF, even if he’s not the same as 10 years ago
He can’t handle CF anymore. He’s been mostly a right fielder for a few seasons now. He has a chance at being a league average hitter, which is useful off the bench, but he’s a terrible CF option at this point.
One Bite Hotdog
@Cosmo2 – Sure. The commenter noted that Fowler “knows” how to handle CF.
I “know” how to get a ‘hole in one’ in golf. I just can’t.
He’s got a weak arm too. He’s not going to throw anyone out.
I’d be very surprised if he was able to be a league average hitter either. His last year in St. Louis was painful to watch. Pretty much an automatic out. He could occasionally yank a hanging curve, but he was overmatched by fastballs. Usually, I’m not one to speculate about a player’s leadership or value to the clubhouse, but Fowler seemed like a malcontent. He openly complained about playing time when he was hitting sub .200 and seemed to sulk when things weren’t going his way. The Blue Jays have a talented roster and depth on the farm. I wouldn’t waste my time on this guy.
I like the Dexter Fowler signing especially if Tapia shows himself as the next Derek Fisher in the field.
According to many in Colorado land, Tapia’s outfield routes and center field play is worse than awful. Let’s see if the reports are accurate.
Felt bad for him when he was injured. Fun guy to have around.
Solid minors signing. His best days are behind him but the Jays aren’t risking anything.
Maybe a coincidence but the Cubs have only won one playoff series since he left.
It’s a coincidence.
I didnt realize Fowler was still in the league, he was a a huge reason why the Cubs were so good in 2016. Wish this guy the best.
Fowler? I hardly know her.
Dude always has a smile on his face. Gotta love that.
I guess? Do smiles win championships?
John Rocker fan club
No but speeches do.
So I guess they aren’t signing Gardner too
I’m ok with that
Interesting- the Cubs wasted 184 million on Heyward (with 20 mil signing bonus deferred all the way til ‘27 OUCH) to get him away from Cards. Cards then waste 82.5 mil to sign Fowler away from Cubs! Very well played in the game of “I’ll show you”. Haha
Talk about a lose-lose
Right, I’ve always loved that about Theo and John. There best moves ever
“They call him Mr. Glass.”
This is a great move! 5-10 years ago.
If he’s healthy, he’s a good piece and the type of veteran you want
Awful player-cancer in the clubhouse. He’s always a victim. No personal responsibility.
I’ve never heard that…source?
In Fowlers’ heyday with the Cubs as their lead off hitter, Joe Maddon referred to him as
Mr. You Go, We Go. And he was.
Now I would say he’s Mr. Yugo.
“Let’s both be clear about what each of us want out of this. You want to stay in the Majors. I want to milk the last bit of baseball you have in you.” Billy Beane to David Justice in Moneyball.
This signing appears to be low risk and worth at least a kicking of the tires. As a long-time Jays fan (and an even longer Cardinals fan) this signing would concern me as a potentially misguided waste of time if the Jays weren’t already stocked with such a talented team. I mean, if Fowler performs sufficiently, great. If Fowler performs poorly, happy trails. What do we have to lose, right?
It’s zero risk. If he plays it will be because they need him, he’s not going to be blocking anyone.
Fowler isn’t the worst insurance option for a 4th Outfielder and its not like Mallex Smith or Josh Palacios are locks to stick.
Mallex Smith is a terrible defender.. I’ve got to tell you though, I think I would rather have Josh Palacios over Smith, Fowler, or even Ramiel Tapia for that matter. Palacios’ minor league equivalencies project better stats than any of the three. Shapiro/Atkins aren’t stupid and have held on to Palacios because they see better upside.
So all that talk about Blue Jays being interested in Gardy was completely false.
Just because they didn’t sign him doesn’t mean all the talk was false.