Toronto Blue Jays News

Toronto Blue Jays outfield targets: Big names to watch in free agency, trades

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Sep 24, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Josh Reddick (11) hits a grand slam home run in the seventh inning of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers won 14-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Josh Reddick (11) hits a grand slam home run in the seventh inning of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers won 14-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

Dexter Fowler  –  31 years old
Chicago Cubs

Dexter Fowler is part of the storybook playoff run unfolding in Chicago right now, but when that eventually comes to an end, he’ll have a decision to make on his 2017 option.

It should be a no-brainer, though, as Fowler has the opportunity to seek something much more lucrative than $9 million in 2017 (Chicago can buy out the option year for $5 million, which won’t happen).

Since being traded to the Cubs prior to 2015 then re-signing with the team again last offseason — thanks in large part to the Baltimore Orioles botching their chance — Fowler has given Chicago the two most valuable years of his career. The switch-hitter has posted WARs of 3.3 and 4.7 in his two seasons, playing far above his salary level both times.

His desire to stay in Chicago will be the first obstacle for any team targeting Fowler, but if he’s open to playing elsewhere, there’s a lot to like.

Fowler’s greatest appeal to the Blue Jays, alongside being a switch-hitter, is his on-base tool. The veteran posted a .393 on-base percentage this past season and has a career mark of .366. After a season that saw Ezequiel Carrera bat leadoff far too often, having Fowler atop the lineup would be a notable upgrade.

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Standing six-foot-five, Fowler remains a strong athlete with the ability to impact the game with his base running. Fowler’s defence hasn’t always been his strongest asset, however, and therein lies one of the stumbling blocks for Toronto.

Fowler has played over 8,000 innings in centre field but just one in right field and none in left. It wouldn’t be as big an adjustment as Ian Desmond moving out from shortstop, of course, but Fowler’s home has undeniably been in centre.

Like many players in this free agent class, teams must feel confident that Fowler will maintain this level of play through to his age-35 or 36 seasons. Will he still be worth the value of his free agent deal by 2020 and beyond? With six consecutive seasons of an OPS+ over 100, Fowler has set himself up nicely.

Up Next: Dreaming Big

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