I’ve had three months to think about Yovani Gallardo. Dexter Fowler, not very long.
In this long, action-packed offseason where the Orioles have been mentioned with so many free agents, there’s plenty of time to delve into free agents’ stats and backgrounds.
Gallardo’s name has come up almost since the start of free agency. It’s just that Fowler’s hasn’t.
It’s long been assumed the Orioles wanted to keep their draft choices, and having the 14th pick in the draft was a valuable one.
After all, it doesn’t appear the Orioles came up with much in the 2014 draft, and Dan Duquette knows a team must grow its own to be a perennial contender.
When the Orioles signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, they didn’t have a draft pick until the third round when they selected high school pitcher Brian Gonzalez, who has struggled in the low minors. Fourth round pick Pat Connaughton is trying to prove that he can play in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers. While fifth rounder David Hess has impressed, the Orioles need more than that from their first four rounds.
This year was an opportunity to stockpile draft picks with six in the first 91 choices. Many in the organization thought that besides Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters would depart, giving the Orioles even more chances to draft young talent.
Instead, Davis and Wieters are back, and perhaps Gallardo and Fowler.
The Orioles have an opportunity to challenge in a questionable American League East in 2016 and 2017 since if they sign Gallardo and Fowler, only Wieters and Mark Trumbo from this year’s team isn’t under club control for next year.
Fowler’s plusses are many. He’s an ideal leadoff hitter for the Orioles who are currently without one. He has a lifetime .363 on-base percentage, far above their team average. Fowler stole 20 bases last year. In 2015, only Manny Machado stole as many.
Last year, he played 156 games, and even though he’s played only one inning in the majors in right field, Fowler should be able to slide over and complement Adam Jones.
He also serves as insurance in case Jones again misses time. There isn’t a legitimate backup center fielder on the team.
With Hyun-soo Kim, who’s new to U.S. baseball assumed to be the left fielder, it would take a lot of pressure off Jones to have an accomplished fielder in right.
And, Fowler also strikes out a lot, 154 times in 2015, so he should feel comfortable with the aggressive Orioles.
Fowler, who played only one year in the American League, 2014 with Houston, has played six games in Baltimore, and has a .217 average (5-for-23).
As for the draft, I guess there’s always 2017.
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