• Chris Lollis

St. Louis Cardinals: What to do with Dexter Fowler

Dexter Fowler Photo credit Jake Roth (USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Dexter Fowler to a 5-year $82.5M contract prior to the 2017 season. He was brought in to be the club’s lead off hitter and center fielder. While the majority of that season he did man CF, batting lead off never really came to fruition. A lot of that due to Matt Carpenter’s inability to produce as well in any other spot in the lineup.

Fowler didn’t have a horrible 2017 for St. Louis. He ended the season with a .264 avg. and career highs in 18 HR and 64 RBI. Coming off his first and only All-Star appearance in 2016 with the Cubs, there were many that had high hopes for Dex to bring his bat from both sides of the plate to the top of the order, and to fill the outfield void that had been left when Jason Heyward chose to sign with Chicago.

In 2018, Fowler shifted to RF as the Cardinals gave Tommy Pham most of the reps in center. Pham was later moved in a trade with Tampa Bay to give the young kid Harrison Bader a shot.

Needless to say the shuffling seemed to affect Dexter mentally, and his relationship with then manager Mike Matheny was souring. Fowler had voiced to media that he didn’t feel he was treated right and that the communication between he & Matheny wasn’t what it should be.

After Matheny was let go, Mike Shildt gave Fowler another shot (starting him 17 of his first 19 games as interim manager).

He was starting to slowly raise his average and also hit a couple home runs during that time, but in an Aug 3. game vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dex fouled a pitch off his left foot, fracturing it.

The mental rollercoaster of having a lackluster season and lack of communication with management would now see Fowler lacking time being around his teammates. No question, this affects ones’ mindset.

As time went on, the Cardinals got on one hell of a hot steak. When asked about it, Fowler voiced how excited he was to return in 2019 with expectations to play everyday.

St. Louis ended up cooling off by season’s end, but outfielders Jose Martinez and Tyler O’Neill we’re getting their shots at right field. O’Neill showed glimpses of power but didn’t make himself a permanent fixture, and while Martinez’ bat was one of the better in the Cardinals lineup, his defense left a lot to be desired.

This off-season, it’s likely the Cardinals move José Martinez in a trade to an American League team looking for a DH. Tyler O’Neill will be best suited for a bench role, unless he’s moved in a trade (possibly he or Adolis Garcia in a Goldschmidt package) but Dexter Fowler is still on the books for $16.5M a season for 3 more years with a full no-trade clause.

Depending on what moves the Cardinals do end up making, the switch-hitting Fowler is a player that could indeed have a bounce-back season for St. Louis in 2019. However it’s highly doubtful that he will be impactful enough to be what the team needs to get over the proverbial “hump”.

Do the Cardinals try getting Dex to waive his full no-trade clause and look to deal him? Do they eat the remaining salary and release him? Or, do they trot him back out in uniform in 2019 to see what he’s got left?

What say you, Cardinals Nation?

Thanks for Reading

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