Dexter Fowler: Should Atlanta Braves Pursue Outfielder?


Dexter Fowler concluded his 2015 season as a member of the Chicago Cubs, but he is set to become a free agent after the season. Should the Atlanta Braves pursue him for 2016 and beyond?

In the 2014-2015 offseason, the Houston Astros traded Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs for Dan Straily and Luis Valbuena. The Chicago Cubs needed a center fielder and someone to hit atop the lineup. This marked the second time in a little over a year that a team traded for Fowler. In 2015, Fowler entered the final season of his contract, scheduled to make $9.5M.

-= Related: Mallex Smith: Atlanta Braves’ Starting Outfielder in 2016? =-

As the leadoff hitter for the Chicago Cubs, Dexter Fowler performed well, producing a .250/.346/.411 slash line while playing in a career-high 156 games on the season. Also, Fowler produced a nice blend of speed and power, ending the season with 17 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Fowler’s 17 home runs marked a career-high for the 30 year old center fielder, and his 20 stolen bases were second-best in his eight-year career. In addition to Fowler’s bat, he demonstrated above-average outfield play in 2015.

With Dexter Fowler set to become a free agent after the conclusion of the World Series, the Atlanta Braves need to go after the Georgia-native. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dexter Fowler attended Milton High School, where the Colorado Rockies selected him in the 14th round of the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft. The Braves are notorious for signing/drafting talent out of their back yards, so a move for Fowler falls in line with prior history.

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The Atlanta Braves seem noncommittal about Cameron Maybin‘s future with the team, but the Braves missed their chance to sell-high on the former first round pick. Maybin saw his production drop drastically in the second-half of the 2015 season, but to his defense, he suffered an eye-injury in the latter part of the season. Also, the Braves have Mallex Smith in the minors, and he looks ready to make the jump to the MLB in 2016. However, if the Braves choose to start Smith out in the minors in 2016, Dexter Fowler provides a capable addition to the Braves’ outfield.

If Smith does not make the Atlanta Braves’ roster out of Spring Training, the Braves need to have an answer in the outfield. Michael Bourn is in the twilight of his career, and Cameron Maybin’s future with the team remains in question. By signing Fowler, the Braves fill the void atop the order. In 2015, the Braves struggled to find a capable bat to hit leadoff; the team experimented with both Jace Peterson and Cameron Maybin last year. Dexter Fowler hit leadoff with the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies.

If the Braves signed Dexter Fowler, an outfield composed of Fowler, Nick Markakis, and either Maybin or Smith looks nice. Fowler and Maybin both struggled to stay healthy in their young careers, but by the Braves having both rostered, the team possesses four-to-five capable outfielders (Fowler, Maybin, Markakis, Bourn, and Smith) to combat any injuries that may arise. By adding Fowler, he hopefully aids in the helping the offensive woes the Braves had in 2015. 

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There are other outfield options via free agency (Austin Jackson and Colby Rasmus), but by Fowler being a Georgia-native, the addition looks to be a seamless fit. At the age of 30, Fowler probably wants a deal in the three-to-four year range, while making roughly $10-12M per year. If the Braves do not want to pay-up for former Brave Jason Heyward, Fowler presents a quick-fix solution in the outfield. If Dexter Fowler resembles the player of 2015, he provides a boon to an offensively-hindered club.

John Hart noted that the Atlanta Braves’ main focus for the 2015-2016 offseason is to put together a strong bullpen; however, he must address the offensive side of the team as well. Look for Dexter Fowler to garner attention from multiple teams this offseason (including the Chicago Cubs); however, coming home to Atlanta looks like a real possibility. Perhaps the Braves sign a combo of Georgia boys in Fowler and Matt Wieters. Stay tuned. 

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