Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Signing Fowler probably closes the door on Brett Gardner

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: Dexter Fowler #25 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on from the outfield during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: Dexter Fowler #25 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on from the outfield during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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Yesterday afternoon, the Toronto Blue Jays added to their outfield depth by signing veteran switch hitter Dexter Fowler to a Minor-League deal roughly a week before Opening Day.

Former 14th round pick of the Colorado Rockies back in 2004, Fowler has one All-Star nomination to his name and owns a career .259/.358/.417 slash line through 1460 games. Over the course of 5040 at-bats, the Georgia product has amassed 127 home runs, 517 RBI, 149 steals, and a .775 OPS while suiting up for the Rockies, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels. Last season, Fowler only appeared in seven games for the Angels before a torn ACL put him on the shelf for the campaign.

Defensively, Fowler has spent the majority of his career in centre field but also has some experience in right field as well, sporting a .985 and .977 fielding percentages respectively. The numbers are not kind to the former Cardinal, sporting a career -73 bDRS in centre and a -15 bDRS in left field.

The Blue Jays are no stranger to Fowler, as the club reportedly offered him a four-year deal back in the 2016/2017 offseason worth $64 million but he eventually signed with the Cardinals.

The signing of Fowler is a smart move for the Jays, as the veteran provides additional depth in the club’s outfield and considering his late arrival to camp, he will most likely start the season down in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons. The active roster seems pretty set at the moment when it comes to the outfield but having additional depth is not a bad thing to have around if things go south quickly.

The Blue Jays signed veteran Dexter Fowler to a MiLB deal, most likely signalling the end of any interest in free-agent Brett Gardner.

The MiLB deal for Fowler also most likely signals the end of the Jays’ interest in free-agent Brett Gardner.

The lefty-batting outfielder finds himself without a team late into Spring Training, as the long-time New York Yankee appears to still be holding out for a contract from his old club, a notion that seems to be fading with each passing day.

It was reported late last week that the Blue Jays front office was interested in Gardner, which makes sense considering he hits from the left side (an area the Jays lack on the roster) and has a pretty solid track record at the Rogers Centre (eight triples, nine home runs, and a .784 OPS through 321 at-bats).

He would have most likely been considered as a bench option for the Jays but after the signing of Fowler, along with the acquisition of Raimel Tapia last week from the Rockies, and it makes no sense for the front office to look into adding Gardner, even if he was interested in joining an AL East rival. Depending on who you ask amongst the Blue Jays faithful, this is good news, as many fans were not willing to accept the former Yankees amongst their ranks while some fans were more than willing to welcome his lefty bat to the lineup.

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Regardless of your thoughts on a potential Jays/Gardner matchup, the signing of Dexter Fowler most likely is the nail in the coffin for adding to the outfield depth when it comes to veteran players in the system.

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