Dexter Fowler’s value may never be higher than it is right now, but if the Cleveland Indians want to return to the World Series in 2017 would it be worth the overpay?
If you are an Indians fan, you should know plenty about Dexter Fowler by now. He led off Game 6 with a solo home run, which led to more bad things and more bad things and more bad things. Well, leading up to that awful moment he had a pretty great season on his own.
The 2016 season was his second in a row with the Chicago Cubs on one-year deals. In 2015 he played for $9.5 million, and in 2016 that was bumped to $13.5 million as a "bet on yourself" kind of deal. The bet paid off big time.
Fowler slashed .276/.393/.447 for a career-high 129 wRC+ and 13 home runs this season. His walk rate hit a career high at 14.3 percent in 2016, but he still struck out 22 percent of the time — right along his career average.
Fowler’s defense suddenly improved in 2016, but part of that could be the benefit of having Jason Heyward covering half the world from right field. He did continue to handle routine balls at at 99 percent efficiency, according to Inside Edge Fielding, but failed to turn anything considered anything unlikely or remote.
At 31 years old by the time next season rolls around, Fowler is probably the youngest target for the Tribe this offseason, if they are in on him. MLB Trade Rumors estimates Fowler will receive a four-year, $64 million deal. Fowler also declined a qualifying offer, meaning he will also cost the Indians a draft pick if they were to sign him. So no matter how you slice it, he is not coming cheap.
I was all-in on the Indians going after Fowler for a one-year deal last offseason, but I am not so sure this time around.
The Indians potentially have Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen coming over the next 2-3 seasons, so maybe the Indians could flip Fowler towards the end of a four-year contract and still regain some value. But outside of that, regardless of if you think the Indians should sign him, Fowler does not fir the Indians’ M.O. There is going to be a bidding war, he is not going to come as a bargain, and he will likely be a building block of a winning team. I don’t think the Indians are ready to pay $16 million per year for a supplemental piece of their already-winning team.