The St. Louis Cardinals have a glut of outfielders and Kyle Glaser of Baseball America opines they are likely to move some of them this winter, while also being interested in Marlins powerhouse Giancarlo Stanton or fellow All-Star Marcell Ozuna.
One outfielder that is likely to be moved is Dexter Fowler, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Cards prior to the 2017 season.
While Fowler is a player that I’m sure will be floated around as a target for the Mets this offseason given their potential need in center field, I really don’t think the Mets should go down this avenue.
Fowler, 31, is due $66 million through the 2021 season, a significant obligation for a player who has a long injury history in his career. For a Mets team looking to put a season packed with injuries behind them, consider that Fowler has missed at least 35 in four of his last five seasons, including this past year where he again spent time on the disabled list and missed 44 games with wrist and forearm injuries.
Even if the Cards do eat some of his contract, that only means the Mets would have to part with a better package of players.
Defensively, Fowler has also lost a step or two over the years and quite frankly looked awful in the field in 2017. He had -18 defensive runs saved, which was the worst among 30 qualifying center fielders, while also having a -5.9 UZR.
At his age he’s already lost much of the speed that once gave him additional value, stealing only seven bases after seven straight seasons of double-digit steals. He’s likely entering a rapid decline in production in other facets of his game over the next four years, with his best seasons already behind him.
The Mets do have a need in the outfield, that much is true. However, I think the Mets could do far much better navigating the free agent market which has a surprising crop of players who could help the team for far less than the $16.5 million annual commitment to Fowler.
At the end of the day, I have legitimate concerns about Fowler’s declining speed and deteriorating defense. He’s on the wrong side of 30, and a rapid decline of all his other skills is to be expected. Fowler still has four years and $66 million owed to him. For all these reasons plus the fact we’d have to give up prospects to get him, I would hope the Mets steer clear of Dexter Fowler and look elsewhere for outfield help this offseason.