During the recent MLB Winter Meetings, news from the Cardinals camp were possible trades, with tidbits of the organization talking with representatives of free agent centerfielder Dexter Fowler. The last day, this past Thursday, still nothing in stone that the Cardinals had accomplished. However, late in the day, rumors began to fly. Literally. Fowler was on his way to St. Louis. Save taking his physical, the Cardinals had their centerfielder for 2017 and beyond. Friday morning the news was confirmed. With that infectious smile, Dexter Fowler sat at the press table with St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak. He was introduced to the press core; and, to the millions watching, as the press conference began soon after 10 a.m. (CST). Mozeliak stated, the organization had signed Fowler as their centerfielder. But, not quite the best kept secret as happens in the MLB with such news.
Cardinals sign Dexter Fowler for five years at $82.5 MM with a no trade clause. He will wear the #25 in honor of Barry Bonds. (AP photo/Jeff Roberson)
I have watched Fowler that last two seasons while he was with the Chicago Cubs. Prior to those years, I was unfamiliar with him; or, his performance, as he began his major league career with the Colorado Rockies in 2008. From the Chicago northenders we heard news of Anthony Rizzo, 30-30 Club in 2015. The arrival of their extraordinary prospect Kris Bryant. But, very little about their centerfielder Dexter Fowler. Even though not an abundance of flash, he was solid in the field with agility and speed. He brought a bat to the plate and used that speed around the bags. He was one I admired from afar - he being a Cubs and, myself, being a Cardinals fan. And allowing his his free agency in the off-season of 2015, was perplexing to me. However, they did resign him for one more season. He declined the QO offering this offseason by the Cubs, and onto the 2017 free agent list. Personally, I'm happy with the Cubs decision. The Cardinals were fortunate enough to see this union as a reality.
In my own observation, he always had this abundance of energy. Not only on the field, but coming from his person. On the field, one could see, Fowler loved playing the game and was having fun "doing his job", but with a great deal of concentration, determination and accomplishment. No, he is not a Golden Glover or a Silver Slugger; but, a solid no-nonsense player when on the field. In 2016, holding a .393 OBP, he was .479 in his first inning at bat. He was lead-off the past two seasons with Chicago. A big plus, his leadership and his willingness to be a part of the Cardinals core of leaders, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. With his personal energy, I foresee the 30 year old Fowler quickly becoming a cornerstone for the club with his positives for our younger players, on and off the field.
I believe Fowler is just as happy (genuinely) to be with the Cardinals as fans are to have him with our team which resides along the Mighty Mississippi.
He will not wear his usual #24, as that was worn by former Cardinals Whitey Herzog and has been retired. Therefore, he chose #25 in honor of his favorite, Barry Bonds. The Cardinals and Fowler inked the 5 Yr/$82.5 MM contact with a blanketed no-trade clause. Yes, the Cardinals organization opened up their checkbook to achieve their goal. I, for one among millions of Cardinals fans, am very happy they did.
Welcome, Dexter Fowler ~ You have just added a great dimension to our Cardinals. I look forward to watching you in 162 games in 2017; and, beyond. Oh, by the way, I feel, you do look far better in Cardinals Red vs. Cubs Blue. Congratulations, and, I'm very excited you are with our team bringing your leadership for all. I consider this a "win-win" situation.