On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals and outfielder Dexter Fowler agreed to terms on a free agent deal to bring the former Chicago Cubs outfielder to St. Louis.
Not willing or not able to meet the prices in a trade for a much needed outfielder, the St. Louis Cardinals opted to sign one of the top free agents available, said multiple sources Thursday night.
The deal will be finalized once the center fielder clears a physical with Cardinals medical staff, which has been planned for Friday.
The Cardinals will announce Fowler’s signing on Friday with a press conference scheduled for 10:00 a.m. local time.
Sources described the deal as big and likely for 5 years and at least $80 million. This signing would hit the Cubs hard as Fowler ignited the Chicago offense all season and will now be playing for its biggest rivals.
The Cardinals had tried to make a trade to acquire Adam Eaton, but that fell through when Washington grouped three of its top prospects, that included a top hurler, in a trade with the Chicago White Sox.
Over $40 million has come off the Cardinals payroll, and the club will benefit from the new TV rights deal of $1.1 billion. They may now opt to spend more to sign a slugger such as Edwin Encarnacion or Mark Trumbo.
The signing of Fowler will cost the Cardinals the 19th overall pick during 2017.
Over the last week during the winter meetings, the Cardinals spoke with a number of teams about possible trades. Lorenzo Cain from Kansas City was discussed, as was Charlie Blackmon from the Rockies.
St. Louis soon learned that teams wanted Alex Reyes the team’s top prospect on the mound.
In the just completed season, Fowler hit .276 with 13 home runs. He stole 13 bases and scored 84 runs. His on base percentage of .393 led all leadoff hitters in baseball.
The Cardinals whacked 225 home runs during the season but still missed the postseason for the first time in 6 years. The goal was to increase the base running ability and athleticism of the team, while reshaping the top of their order.
Signing Fowler accomplishes that. In addition, it will move Matt Carpenter from the leadoff spot to second or third in the batting order, which will make him more of a run producer.