It was set up to be a great day for the Orioles. First, there was the press conference to officially welcome Yovani Gallardo to the Orioles, and then Dexter Fowler would arrive, take his physical and a day or two later, join Gallardo and his teammates.
Instead, Feb. 25 turned into one of the more bizarre days in recent Orioles history as Fowler, instead of coming to Orioles camp, suddenly appeared in Chicago Cubs headquarters to re-sign with his old team.
The Orioles were taken aback by the Fowler affair. It caused a spat between Fowler’s agent, Casey Close, and Dan Duquette, and more importantly, made the Orioles scramble again.
Two weeks later, the Orioles signed Pedro Alvarez instead, and Mark Trumbo, who was set to be the full-time designated hitter, went to right field.
In postseason accounts of Fowler’s exploits, there are few mentions of his sudden turnabout. The Orioles offer was reported as three years and $33 million while the Cubs gave him $13 million for 2016 with a mutual option for next season.
Fowler hit .276 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs and had a stellar .393 on-base average. He also stole 13 bases, just six below the Orioles’ team total.
In the National League Championship Series, Fowler is batting .304 with a home run and three RBIs.
There was lots of speculation about why Fowler didn’t want to join the Orioles. He didn’t want to play right field because he’d always been a centerfielder. He didn’t want to play in the tough AL East. It was never clear, but if he had played right field and Trumbo had been the DH, the Orioles would, undoubtedly, have been better.
Fowler’s WAR was 4.2, the best of his career.
He’ll likely be on the free agent market again this offseason, and if the Cubs don’t re-sign him, he could be a prized catch.
Don’t expect the Orioles to be among the pursuers.
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