Phillies Should Break The Bank To Sign Dexter Fowler

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Jun 6, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) hits a double during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) hits a double during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sometimes you get lucky and the world hands you an opportunity that you need to take advantage of. Maybe something like a high-caliber, still fairly young, switch-hitting, recent World Champion center fielder suddenly and unexpectedly enters the free agent market for the Phillies.

Now that Dexter Fowler has decided not to return to the World Champion Chicago Cubs, this is exactly the kind of opportunity the Philadelphia Phillies should look to capitalize on. A switch-hitting center fielder just entering his age 31 season, Fowler has shown almost no decline with age. In fact, as he’s gotten older he’s gotten better at discipline in the strike zone.

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As a 30-year-old Fowler could provide some veteran leadership to the extremely young Phillies team. This is a team that will desperately need someone who’s been there before as a major leaguer to help guide them through the personal and professional obstacles that come with playing at the sports highest level.

Veteran leaderships importance cannot be understated, and as it currently stands Freddy Galvis would represent the 2017 Phillies veteran. Not for nothing, but Freddy isn’t exactly the guy the team should be leaning on for hitting advice.

Fowler can also help bolster the outfield. As a solid defensive center fielder Fowler can be a captain of the Phillies outfield for the foreseeable future. While his defensive metrics may be a bit skewed from year to year, he’s managed to be at or above average while having Chicago and Colorado as two of his main home parks.

Neither is an easy place to play center. One has extreme wind conditions that routinely change the path of the ball and the other is widely considered one of the biggest outfields in baseball. Besides that he would bring experience to an extremely young set of outfielders.

Odubel Herrera can either be traded, or look into playing a corner outfield position. Roman Quinn can start the year in AAA and move up if there is an injury or Fowler ends up being traded at the deadline.

Over Fowler’s career he’s had fairly decent numbers playing against NL East teams. Against the NL East as a whole he has a slash line of .272/.372/.489 for an OPS of .862 for his career against the National League East. That OPS would have been the 31st best in baseball this year among qualifiers, for comparison. And that’s not a small sample size with about a season and a half worth of plate appearances.

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He’s also had some success at what would be his home park if he were to become a Phillie, Citizen’s Bank Park. For his career he’s played 26 games there and accumulated 106 plate appearances. For his efforts he’s earned a .290/.358/.387 line for a respectable .746 OPS.   That batting average would have been second best on the team this year.

But the main reason the Phillies should do whatever it takes, including overpaying him, to make him a Phillie is his plate discipline. Among qualifiers this year Dexter Fowler was first in laying off pitches outside the zone. This has been a very troublesome issue for this team. Among that same list of qualifiers that finds Fowler the best in the baseball is three Philadelphia Phillies who were the worst, Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis. Fowler only swung out of the zone 19.4% of the time; Galvis did it over 40% of the time.

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Philadelphia has the money, they have it in spades actually. They’re set to have the lowest payroll in baseball this year. Fowler declining his option is somewhat of a gift, something that wasn’t’ expected to happen that now has. It’s not often anymore that players of his caliber at his age hit the open market.

There’s an opportunity here for this team and they should realize it and take full advantage of what’s been put in front of them.

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