Center fielder Dustin Fowler cleared outright waivers after being designated for assignment last week and has been assigned to the Pirates’ alternate training site, tweets Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He’ll remain with the organization but is no longer on the team’s 40-man roster.
The Pirates acquired Fowler, from the A’s in exchange for cash back in late February. An 18th-round pick of the Yankees back in 2013, Fowler emerged as one of the game’s more highly regarded outfield prospects and was a key piece sent from New York to Oakland in 2017’s Sonny Gray trade. Fowler was injured at the time, having incurred a ruptured patellar tendon when crashing into the wall in foul ground at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field in his MLB debut.
Fowler never managed to right the ship in the big leagues following that injury. He made his A’s debut in 2018 but managed only a .224/.256/.354 batting line in 203 trips to the plate. His work in Triple-A remained solid but not spectacular, and the A’s opted to move on in order to open a roster spot for their surprise signing of Trevor Rosenthal.
Fowler was a sensible roll of the dice for a Pirates club with little in the way of proven options in center field. He opened the year sharing time with fellow former top prospect Anthony Alford, but neither produced whatsoever in the first few weeks of the season. Fowler hit .171/.239/.195 with 20 strikeouts in 46 plate appearances before the Bucs designated him for assignment and turned center field over to Bryan Reynolds. Recent waiver claim and Rule 5 pick Ka’ai Tom figures to see some time out there as well now that he’s cleared intake testing and joined the club.
Fowler and Alford, who were designated for assignment one day apart, will get in some work with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate when the season gets underway next week and hope to work their way back into the mix for big league playing time. The Bucs seem to prefer Reynolds in left field and don’t have a clear center fielder ready to take over the reins, so it’s certainly possible that either could impress to the point that they receive another look.