ANAHEIM — The Angels solidified their outfield on Thursday, trading for Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Cardinals are also sending the Halos $12.75 million as part of the deal, so the Angels are on the hook for only $1.75 million of Fowler’s salary in 2021.
It’s a move that means top prospect Jo Adell will almost certainly open the season in the Minors, as Fowler can take over as the club’s starting right fielder with Justin Upton in left field and Mike Trout in center. It also reunites Fowler with skipper Joe Maddon, who was his manager with the Cubs from 2015-16, including winning the World Series together in ’16. Fowler waived his no-trade clause to join the Angels.
“I think there’s a couple things we really liked, and No. 1, the guy,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “It’s an outstanding human being. It’s a high-energy player, which over a 162-game season is really important. And this guy brings that smile, that energy on a daily basis and we still think he can play. We think there’s a lot left in the tank. He had a down year last year and he’s the first one to tell you that. But the homework we’ve done. He’s put a ton of work in this offseason.”
Fowler, 34, is in the last year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract he signed with the Cardinals before the 2017 season. It fits the trend of Minasian acquiring players in the final year of their contracts this offseason.
Fowler, a switch-hitter with experience in center field, gives the Angels a low-cost stopgap in right field and he can also fill in for Trout in center when he needs a day off. Taylor Ward figures to be the club’s backup outfielder with Adell getting a chance to get more seasoning in the Minors after an uneven rookie season in ‘20. Adell could force the issue for more playing time depending on how he performs.
“I think with Jo, there a lot of young players who have struggled their first time at the Major League level,” Minasian said. “You could go back to Javier Báez or Joey Gallo and now they’re both outstanding players. So we feel really good about Jo and think he’ll have an outstanding career. And we think he can impact us this season.”
Fowler batted .233/.317/.389 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 31 games last year and in his last full season, he hit .238/.346/.409 with 19 homers, 24 doubles and 67 RBIs in 150 games in ’19. He’s a career .259/.358/.418 hitter with 127 homers, 253 doubles, 82 triples and 516 RBIs in 1,453 games with the Rockies, Astros, Cubs and Cardinals. He was an All-Star with Chicago in ’16.
“I think his right-handed swing was something he had trouble with last year,” Minasian said. “But he’s worked really hard this offseason.”
Fowler joins several new additions in the last year of their contracts, including closer Raisel Iglesias, shortstop José Iglesias, left-hander José Quintana, right-hander Alex Cobb, catcher Kurt Suzuki and reliever Alex Claudio.
“We want a certain type of player, and Joe and I are really aligned in this,” Minasian said. “We’ve acquired players that have had past experience with him and putting his stamp on those players obviously make them more desirable. He has the ability to get the most out of players and having those conversations with individuals who have played for him, they’ve all said the same thing: they can’t wait to get back in the dugout with Joe.”