2016 Fantasy Baseball: Baltimore Orioles Sign Dexter Fowler
The Baltimore Orioles did not make a ton of noise on the free agent market. At least, they did’t make a ton of noise for guys outside the organization (they re-signed Chris Davis and Darren O’Day). That changed when they signed Dexter Fowler and Yovani Gallardo this week. We’ve already profiled the Yovani Gallardo signing. That deal took a little longer to finalize than what most people thought. By comparison, the Fowler deal came together rather quickly. He will earn 33 million dollars over three seasons with the Orioles.
Why the Orioles make this move
We often look at baseball moves from a singular dimension. When it comes to hitters we often look at a signing or trade as it pertains to the position the player plays. In the case of Fowler, he has been a center fielder for his entire career, but he will plug a hole in right field for Baltimore. While the prospects for right field didn’t look that good, the Orioles had acquired Mark Trumbo in a trade with the Mariners. Trumbo can marginally play right field, but now he can shift to designated hitter.
The acquisition of Fowler is not so much about where he will play in the field as where he will hit in the lineup. In short, Fowler plugs a huge hole on top of the Orioles lineup. The Orioles have more power bats than most people give them credit for. Trumbo gives them another bat that could potentially hit 30 home runs this season to go along with Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and the aforementioned Davis. They didn’t have anyone capable of getting on base in front of them until they signed Fowler. Fowler has a career .363 OBP and in this day and age, that is pretty stout.
When you add Fowler to the lineup and the offseason haul, you realize the Orioles have done a whole lot more than what people first thought. Hyun-Soo Kim put up some huge numbers in Korea and was signed in the offseason. He doesn’t register as a big time fantasy option yet, but when you throw that into the discussion with Fowler and Trumbo you see the Orioles are incrementally better than they were a year ago.
What this deal means for you
In generic outfield leagues, this deal doesn’t change things for Dexter Fowler and where he would have ranked on your team. The Orioles have the opportunity to be a prolific offense, but he is leaving a pretty good offense in Chicago. The bigger impact comes in leagues that employ specific outfield positions. Once Fowler gets two weeks into the season, he will be eligible in center field and right field. Depending on the size of your league (and the number of starting outfielders you employ) he could be either a really good bench piece or a fourth or fifth starting outfielder on your team.
Obviously, six category leagues are going to be a lot more impressed with Fowler than traditional leagues, but he still offers a little bit of everything. In two seasons at sea level, he has averaged more than ten home runs per season and 15 stolen bases per season. There is no reason why that kind of production shouldn’t continue. Those numbers (along with 80 or more runs scored) may not blow your skirt up, but it’s worth keeping an eye on when you are making your draft list.