The Orioles don't have their new outfielder yet, but according to ESPN's Buster Olney, they're just about there. Olney reported on Wednesday night that the O's and Fowler have been discussing a contract for either two or three years, for $12-13 million per year. There's a big difference between $24 million and $39 million guaranteed, of course, but for a player with Fowler's track record, who cares?
Fowler is an exciting addition, full stop. Forget about the lost draft pick and focus on his career. 363 on-base percentage. That is a higher number than Orioles left fielders had as their slugging percentage in the 2014 season. Fowler, who has been a center fielder by trade, figures to slot in to right field for the O's. He only turns 30 next month.
The contract could represent a great bargain for the O's, if they end up signing him for near those terms. The O's look to benefit from the fact that Fowler had something of a down year by his standards in 2015... and even then he batted .250/.346/.411 - which would have given him the third-highest OBP and fourth-highest OPS among qualified O's batters. "But who will be the leadoff batter?" has been one of those questions all offseason and now we have our answer.
It's even more of a bargain when compared to the four-year, $60 million contract he was expected to get at the start of the offseason. It looks so good that it makes me nervous because Orioles fans aren't allowed to have nice things.
Another fun thing about Fowler is this, his range while patrolling center for the Cubs last year:
In some ways, range is wasted in right field for the O's, with the short porch and the out-of-town scoreboard, but that is a great range that will go a long way to helping Fowler reach balls that we simply haven't seen O's right fielders reaching since the days before Nick Markakis started wearing cement blocks instead of cleats.
Oh, and Fowler is a switch-hitter, so he helps the overall O's lineup balance, and also, he's best against left-handed pitchers in his career, helping to address a major weakness that the 2015 O's team possessed.
It's looking like the O's are basically going to be all in for the next two years. Bring it on... and hope the starting rotation can keep up.