St. Louis Cardinals: Injury complicates limited Fowler trade options

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 6: Dexter Fowler #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals returns to the dugout after a rain delay was called in the third inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on May 6, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 6: Dexter Fowler #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals returns to the dugout after a rain delay was called in the third inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on May 6, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Dexter Fowler’s recent injury has made him more difficult for the St. Louis Cardinals to trade.  What options do the Cardinals have left for the 32-year old outfielder?

Dexter Fowler’s broken ankle he suffered in Friday night’s game vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, has made trading him more problematic for the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals strategy to give Fowler substantial playing time in order to allow him to come out of his season long slump, will need to be re-thought.

I believe the John Mozeliak and the Cardinal front office were hoping the switch-hitting  Fowler would be able to restore his offensive prowess during the second half of the season.  This would make it easier to engineer an off-season trade and allow the Cardinals to get rid of most, if not all of Fowler’s remaining contract.

However, running the bases in the eighth inning in Friday’s 7-6 loss to the Pirates, put an end to that plan.  Now the Cardinals must decide what their next move will be concerning Dexter Fowler.  There are only two realistic options to be considered.

The Trade Option

As stated, this was the option I believed the St. Louis Cardinals were pursuing before Fowler’s injury.  Although not completely off the table, it becomes harder to move him after the injury.

Fowler’s contract length and age already was playing against the Cardinals in the move to trade him.  Therefore, the timing of the injury couldn’t be worse for Dexter Fowler and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The only hope for this option would be Fowler recuperates quickly and return to the lineup by early September.  Hopefully, the last month of the season would be enough for him to regain some of his offensive aptitude.  However, this needs to include time for some sort of rehab in the minors before returning to the major league club.  A rehab stint is complicated by the fact the minor league season will be essentially over with by early September.

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If Fowler does recuperates quickly, returns to the everyday lineup, and improves his offensive numbers during the last month, the trade option would still be in play.  I admit this is the eternal optimist hope, but still possible.

By the way, I know Fowler has a no-trade clause in his contract.  However, I believe that is the least of the Cardinals concern when trying to deal Fowler.  No-trade clauses can be worked out and I believe Fowler is ready to move to greener pastures.

Just keep him and hope for the best

Dexter Fowler could be out for the remainder of the 2018 season.  This is a real possibility.  Even if he could return by September, there would unlikely be enough time for Dex to get his offensive numbers up for a potential-Cardinal benefitting-off season trade.  So the best option would be just to keep him.

The off-season would allow Fowler to recover completely from his injury and he could start working toward 2019.  With this option, he would have more time to work with the Cardinals hitting coaches to rediscover his offensive skills.  With time and dedication by Fowler this could work.

Fowler, who is hitting .180/.278/.298 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs this season, felt like he was turning around his season with the additional playing time.  “I just started feeling better at the plate,” said Fowler according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.  “My timing is there and this happens.”

Another reason to keep Fowler, would be the potential of ‘sophomore slumps’ from a Harrison Bader or Tyler O’Neil, Fowler’s likely replacements.  We have already seen this happen to Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and Tommy Pham.  It could happen again, and Fowler could be the insurance if it did.

Conclusion

The St. Louis Cardinals still owe Dexter Fowler, three years on a five-year $82.5 million contract.  Unloading it at this point will be extremely difficult, and expensive.  Just releasing Fowler is just too expensive for the Cardinals taste.

As stated earlier, if Fowler can regain his offensive prowess he showed in Chicago, then maybe the Cards could unload a significant part of the contract in a trade.  But that is going to have happen in 2019, not now.

The St. Louis Cardinals are unlikely to be willing to take a significant hit on the Fowler contract.  Even if Bader and O’Neil don’t suffer a ‘sophomore slump’, unloading Fowler’s contract for the Cardinals would be difficult for them to endure.

I believe we will see Dexter Fowler in a Cardinal uniform in 2019.  This is the best move for them and doesn’t really hurt them to do it.  He can be there as insurance and if he continues to struggle  in 2019, then deal with it then.

dark. Next. Ian Oxnevad always learning

This is my opinion.   What’s yours?  Let us know and Go Cards.

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