In what’s been a relatively quiet offseason, the Baltimore Orioles increase their standing in the AL East with the signing of free agent Dexter Fowler.
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) February 23, 2016
The 29-year-old enjoyed a resurgent 2015 season with the Chicago Cubs, hitting .250, but also setting career highs in home runs (17), walks (84) and playing in the most games of his career (156).
In fact, injuries had limited Fowler the prior seasons leading into 2015, playing only 116 games with the Houston Astros in 2014, and 119 in 2013 with the Colorado Rockies.
Though Baltimore has been quiet for much free agency, with the exception of inking first baseman Chris Davis to a 7-year deal and bringing in Hyun-soo Kim, adding Fowler to the fold increases the O’s positioning in the AL East.
Fowler will add another speedy presence on the base paths, and in the field; he stole 20 bases last season, while the Orioles only had one player with at least that many—Manny Machado also had 20.
A .326 hitter from the right side in 2015, Fowler heated up in the second-half, leading the Cubs in on-base percentage (.389), and only trailing 2015 Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant in OPS (.852).
From a defensive WAR aspect, Fowler isn’t a plus-fielder, but still very adequate and covered ground exceptionally well for Chicago last season. The Orioles do very well in getting Fowler, who can bat anywhere in the lineup, including the leadoff spot. He has speed and can still cover adequate ground in the outfield.
In what’s a very closely-bunched AL East, this is a key, underrated signing that is a beneficial match for both parties.