BirdsHouse: The perplexing case of Dexter Fowler

Written by on March 1, 2016 in Orioles, Sports - No comments

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke

“For I don’t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me love.” – The Beatles

I can tell you one thing; money will not buy Dexter Fowler any love the next time he shows up in Baltimore.  Luckily for him, the Chicago Cubs do not play the Orioles this year, of course unless they meet in the World Series.

Last week produced a bit of drama for the Baltimore Orioles as they first signed Yovani Gallardo to a three-year deal but then after his physical, restructured it to two years with a club option.  The O’s then were thought to have signed free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler to a three-year deal.  Not so fast.

Several sources, including ESPN’s Buster Olney, reported that Baltimore landed Fowler, however right before the Orioles were going to hold their press conference regarding Yovani Gallardo, news broke of Fowler re-signing with the Chicago Cubs.  Then, to make things more interesting, Fowler’s agent Casey Close ripped Baltimore’s front office. 

Close said many things, but one thing he mentioned was, “Both the Orioles front office and members of the media were so busy recklessly spreading rumors that they forgot or simply chose not to concern themselves with the truth.”  He also said, “Dexter Fowler never reached an agreement with the Orioles and did not come close to signing with the club; any suggestion otherwise is only a continuation of an already disturbing trend.” 

If we did a little deeper into Close’s tirade against the O’s management, we see a few things.  First, news broke of Fowler signing with Baltimore about two days before he issued his scathing statement.  Why did he wait two days to say something that he most likely should have known was untrue from day one? 

Perhaps he did know about it from the start and decided to work on the Chicago deal under wraps to try and stick it to the O’s?  Maybe.

Also, Close says that there was no deal reached, and Baltimore GM Dan Duquette confirmed that by stating, “There was not an agreement to terms because they kept insisting on an opt-out.”  So, there really was no deal, yet a high-ranking Baltimore official released that info to a few select media members.  Why?  Not sure.  Perhaps to pressure Fowler into signing, but that is only speculation. 

Here is my main bottom line:  Earlier this winter Fowler rejected the Cubs qualifying offer of $15.8 million and decided to test the free agency waters.  At the time, Fowler was the Cubs starting centerfielder.  Since that time, the Cubs added Jason Heyward and were talking about giving Jorge Soler a bigger role in the outfield and even Javier Baez was going to get time in the outfield as well.  Oh, there is also Kyle Schwarber in left. 

While that might be a great problem to have as a manager (the Cubs have the opposite problem the Orioles have in the outfield), Fowler’s playing time will most likely be reduced significantly.  Heyward will take over his spot in center which leaves Fowler to one of the corner outfield spots.  While Fowler might be a better defender than Soler, Baez or Schwarber, he lacks the power they have.

The point to all of that is that Fowler will no longer be a starter, meaning that could hurt his value next year when he becomes a free agent.  The Orioles were going to give him a three-year deal worth $33 million.  His one year deal with the Cub for 2016 is for $8 million.  There is also a $9 million mutual option (of $5 million buyout) for next year.  So, he could potentially get $17 million if they both agree on him staying in Chicago, or $13 million and he will be a free agent…a free agent with what value?  Time will tell after this season.  Next year’s class of outfielders might not be as strong as this year’s, but Fowler isn’t exactly a Mike Trout or Adam Jones.  $33 million guaranteed is $33 million guaranteed. 

Now he is looking at minimum $13 million with a ceiling of $17 million over the next two years.  Had he signed with the O’s, he would have had $22 million in the bank over that time.  Also keep in mind Fowler turns 30 towards the end of March, so he isn’t getting any younger. 

If he does not perform well, he might have cost himself a good chunk of change.  Given the crowded Chicago outfield, he might not get the same opportunities he had in 2015 which could cost him significantly. 

If Fowler doesn’t want to listen to me, maybe he can listen to the wise words of former NFL player Randy Moss, “When you’re rich, you don’t write checks… straight cash, homie.”

By Andy Mindzak

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