The Orioles no longer are committed to keeping their first pick in this year’s First-Year Player Draft, showing a willingness to part with the 14th overall selection to sign pitcher Yovani Gallardo. But what about their next selection?
I’ve been told that the Orioles also are discussing outfielder Dexter Fowler, who would cost their compensatory pick after he turned down the Cubs’ qualifying offer. FOXSports.com also confirmed the club’s interest in Fowler.
The Orioles currently hold the 29th pick, which would drop to 28th if they sign Gallardo.
Not everyone in the organization is comfortable surrendering the top two selections with the farm system in dire need of pitching prospects. However, they made similar moves in 2014 by signing pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and outfielder Nelson Cruz in spring training.
You can find a few people in the organization who believe Fowler is needed more than Gallardo despite the hole in the rotation. He’d be inserted in right field and atop the order, allowing manager Buck Showalter to lower Manny Machado.
Fowler’s price is dropping, which puts him in play for the Orioles. It’s the same scenario with Gallardo.
Fowler, a switch-hitter who turns 30 in March, has a career .363 on-base percentage that brings tremendous appeal to the Orioles. He hit .250/.346/.411 with 29 doubles, eight triples and a career-high 17 home runs in 156 games with the Cubs last season.
The 156 games also were a career high for Fowler, who placed eighth in Rookie of the Year voting in the National League with the Rockies in 2009.
Fowler has played only one inning in right field back in 2008. He made nine starts in right in the Arizona Fall League in 2007. However, the Orioles obviously think he could transition from center field.
Nothing is hot at the moment regarding Fowler, but it’s noteworthy that the Orioles aren’t dismissing the idea of giving up their second pick in the draft.
Update: According to ESPN.com, the Orioles’ offer to Gallardo is for three years in the range of $40-45 million. And their interest in Fowler is similar to the two-year, $20 million deal that Howie Kendrick received from the Dodgers.