Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has said very clearly his intent is to upgrade center field for 2017. There happens to be a pretty good one playing in the World Series.
Dexter Fowler, you ready to come to St. Louis?
Okay, we’re a long way from that moment since the Chicago Cubs are still tussling with the Cleveland Indians for the right to break a long title drought, but it’s still worth discussing because Fowler will certainly be a name the Cardinals look at once the offseason arrives.
If they haven’t discussed him already.
The former Colorado Rockie and Houston Astro is now 30 years old and coming off a career year. He was a victim of Major League Baseball’s controversial qualifying offer system where players can be offered a one year deal worth the average of the top 125 salaries in the game. If the player rejects it and heads to free agency then any signing team has to forfeit its first round pick in June’s draft.
That’s not a big deal if you’re, say, Jason Heyward and a team is willing to pay close to $200 million for your services. What’s an extra first round pick for someone a team believes can be a star?
(Cue the jokes about Heyward and his 2016 season here.)
After waiting until February to sign a one year deal with the Cubs with a mutual option for 2017 it is very likely Fowler is going to hit the market once again. After nearly posting a career best OPS this past year (.840) you would have to think Fowler is going to forgo his nine million dollar option for 2017 and take the $5 million buyout - and then sign a big deal elsewhere.
The problem is Fowler is likely to be tied to a draft pick again. MLB.com’s Jen Langosh reported if a player rejects his portion of an option (whether that’s a mutual option or a player option) the team is free to treat as a regular free agent.
That would mean having the ability to slap another qualifying offer on him. Once again, you’d have to imagine he’d reject it thinking he’ll get a bigger deal elsewhere.
Knowing the 30-year old is coming off a season with a .840 OPS compared to a .757 OPS the market might be far different for him this winter compared to last winter. Will teams be more willing to give up a first round pick after the year he just had? They just might.
Will the Cardinals be one of them? Remember, he’s a free agent (we think). Other than a draft pick he’d only cost money - something the Cards have plenty of at this point. It’s not like Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon who would have to be gotten in a trade and cost prospects.
When the Cardinals needed a shortstop three years ago they signed Jhonny Peralta instead of trading the farm for Troy Tulowitzki. It’s a different situation, for sure, but there are still similarities.
Watch the World Series. Enjoy it. It’ll be fun to see who comes out on top. Just know there’s a chance the future Cardinals center fielder is on display for the Cubs.
Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved