Sun. May 9th, 2021

The St. Louis Cardinals have traded outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night. The St. Louis return is a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

The first surface-level observation is that Fowler is reunited with Joe Maddon, the current Angels manager, who managed him during the 2015-16 seasons with the Cubs. The 2016 season was the best of Fowler’s career and he was the catalyst of the offense, with Maddon famously telling him, “you go, we go.” 

Fowler signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal the following offseason with the Cardinals. There is just one year and $16.5 million left on the deal now. The Angels are getting $12.75 million from the Cardinals to cover most of Fowler’s 2021 salary, according to Maria Torres of the LA Times

Fowler, 34, hit .233/.317/.389 (92 OPS+) with four homers, 15 RBI and 14 runs in just 31 games last season. 

The move alleviates some of the clogged-up outfield for the Cardinals, though it doesn’t prevent them from adding someone else if they feel they can find an upgrade in free agency. Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill appear to be the everyday outfielders for the Redbirds now, though Tommy Edman could be used out there with Matt Carpenter sliding in at second base. Justin Williams and Lane Thomas could also see some time. 

On the Angels’ end, it looks like Fowler takes over in right field, next to Mike Trout and left fielder Justin Upton. This allows them to get Jo Adell more seasoning in the minors before keeping him at the big-league level after a tough rookie campaign. 

Should Maddon elect to leave Trout in the three-hole with Anthony Rendon fourth — as he did down the stretch last season — it’s possible he’ll want to try Fowler back at the top as he did with the Cubs. If this is the case, David Fletcher is an excellent option in the two-hole with his high-contact and high-average profile. Then there are the likes of Upton, Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols to provide the power behind Rendon. 

In order for that to work, though, Fowler needs a return to form. He had a .346 on-base percentage in 2019 and last was above .350 in 2017 (.363). 

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