SARASOTA, Fla. - While the Orioles await the results of the next round of tests administered to pitcher Yovani Gallardo, they filled another need by reaching agreement with outfielder Dexter Fowler on a three-year deal worth about $35 million, according to an industry source.
The deal doesn’t include an option or an opt-out clause. It’s pending a physical, which is always an important notation.
Fowler, who turns 30 next month, projects as the everyday right fielder and leadoff hitter, allowing Manny Machado to slide down the order. He’s a career .267/.363/.418 hitter in eight major league season and batted .250/.346/.411 last year with the Cubs before rejecting their qualifying offer.
The Orioles already relinquished the 14th overall pick for Gallardo, though they hit a snag with his physical and the deal may be in jeopardy. They hope to obtain the results of his latest tests on Wednesday - believe to be on his shoulder, as I wrote earlier - as they conduct their first full-squad workout.
Fowler would cost the 28th overall pick, received as compensation after left-hander Wei-Yin Chen signed a five-year deal with the Marlins. His acquisition doesn’t impact Gallardo. The Orioles want both of them.
The Orioles routinely rank near the bottom in the majors in on-base percentage, which made Fowler a desirable free agent despite the draft pick attached to him. He’s been almost exclusively a center fielder, but they believe he can make a smooth transition to right field.
The sides had been discussing a two-year deal with an option, but the Orioles were willing to guarantee a third year.
A switch-hitter who placed eighth in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2008, Fowler hit a career-high 17 home runs last season with the Cubs and also stole 20 bases in 27 attempts. He batted .326/.399/.467 versus left-handers and .228/.331/.395 versus right-handers. For his career, he’s hit .303/.392/.438 against lefties and .252/.351/.410 against right-handers.
Fowler finished strong last season, batting .232/.308/.369 in the first half and .272/.389/.463 after the All-Star break.
If the Gallardo and Fowler deals go through, the Orioles’ spending on free agents this winter will climb to around $285 million.
MASNsports.com first reported the three-year agreement. ESPN.com first reported the guaranteed money in the contract.
Update: MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweeted that Fowler will receive $33 million over three years.