In a flip-flop similar to how Jason Heyward bolted up north to the Chicago, this time a former Cubbie is heading south to St. Louis. An early target of the Cardinals right after the Cubs ended their 108-year World Series drought, the club has addressed their issue in center field by agreeing to terms with Dexter Fowler.
St. Louis has scheduled an 10 a.m. news conference Friday.
Just a day after General Manager John Mozeliak left baseball’s winter meetings saying the club didn’t need to have the roster in place before Christmas, the Cardinals and Fowler agreed to terms. The numbers haven’t been confirmed, but one report sited five years in the $80-$90 million range.
The move most likely fills Fowler into the leadoff spot, moving Matt Carpenter to number two in the order. Fowler made $13 million in 2016, returning to the Cubs for one year only after it was reported he would be signing with Baltimore. At the start of spring training, he surprised his Cubs teammates when he walked onto a practice field. He hit 13 homers and had an on-base percentage of .393 this past season. However, he was known to kick start the Cubs offense producing an on-base percentage of .483 in the first inning. When leading off any inning, his on-base percentage was .439. Ten of his 13 homers came when leading off an inning.
While Carpenter isn’t a prototypical leadoff hitter, 2,205 of his 3,016 career plate appearances have come from the leadoff spot. Batting second was his second most popular spot in the order, but a distant second with only 510 appearance in the two-hole. What will make Carpenter effective is not only having someone like Fowler who can get on base, but having a strong number three hitter.
That will be interested to see who Mike Matheny slots behind Carpenter. I hope we hear more during Friday’s press conference.
Fowler’s first at-bat of the 2017 season will come against the Cubs on April 2 in St. Louis.