Now that the Orioles have finally locked up qualified free agent Yovani Gallardo, they’ll move on to adding a bat, and the guy they prefer is fellow qualified free agent Dexter Fowler, according to Roch Kubatko.
The Orioles, Kubatko says, have also been considering a trade for Jay Bruce or signing Pedro Alvarez, but are discussing a two-year, $24ish million deal with Fowler (plus an option for a third year, though it’s unclear whether it’s a team or player option).
Fowler had reportedly been hoping to land a four-year deal, or at least a three-year deal worth $45 million. Back in November, those requests would have seemed mighty reasonable to outsiders, but such is the nature of the market, the damage of the draft pick compensation, and the questions about Fowler’s defensive ability. Indeed, the Orioles would plan to use him in a corner outfield spot.
As for the non-dollar cost, signing Fowler will cost the Orioles the 28th overall pick. But, now that they’ve already lost pick number 14 for Gallardo, it makes a lot more sense to add as much to the big league roster as possible for a run in the short-term, and the draft pick cost for Fowler is now relatively lower.
With Spring Training effectively underway, and positional players due to report across baseball in the coming days, if Fowler signs soon, he won’t really have missed out on much of anything with his new team. Fowler showed himself to be not only a quality player but also a quality teammate last year, so I’m sure getting him in the door early in spring camp is an important goal.
As we’ve discussed, the big impact for the Cubs here is the effective return of their second round draft pick upon Fowler’s signing. That would be the Cubs’ highest pick in the draft, and would add nearly $1 million to their draft bonus pool. The Cubs would be getting a compensatory pick after the first round for Fowler, but they then lose that pick, plus their first rounder, for signing qualified free agents Jason Heyward and John Lackey. As it stands before Fowler signs, the two picks the Cubs are losing are their first and second rounders.