Washington Nationals 2017 Free Agent Target: Dexter Fowler
By Ricky Keeler
Could the Washington Nationals look to add former Cub Dexter Fowler as their new center fielder?
If the Washington Nationals decide to move Trea Turner to the shortstop position, they are going to need to find another center fielder. One of the options that are out there as a possible free agent signing for center field is Dexter Fowler, who played the 2016 season with the World Champion Chicago Cubs.
Fowler was a free agent last offseason and decided to re-sign with the Cubs on a one-year deal. In 125 games, the 30-year-old had a slash line of .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI’s. He has never been known for his high RBI’s totals since his RBI total this past season was the second highest in a single season.
While Fowler isn’t known for driving in runs, his on-base percentage was the highest in his career and sixth in the National League. Plus, over the last two seasons, he has walked 163 times.
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Out of the leadoff spot, Fowler is known for starting Game 7 of the World Series this month with a home run. This season, he hit .328 as the leadoff hitter in the Cubs lineup with ten home runs and 34 RBI’s. Fowler also takes a lot of pitches as he saw 1,061 total pitches this year (third most in the National League).
The perfect fit for Fowler, if he did become a Washington National, would be to put him second in the batting order behind Turner. Fowler can work the count behind Turner and he fits right into the aggressive baserunning mindset Dusty Baker and Davey Lopes have brought to the organization.
As for his defense, Fowler did show improvements at center field this past season. According to Fangraphs, he had one run saved this past season after having -12 in 2015. Also, his 16 total zone runs are fourth in the National League, according to Baseball Reference.
When MLB Trade Rumors did their free agent projections, they predicted Fowler would get a four-year deal worth $64 million. While it would cost the Washington Nationals their first round pick, Fowler is a good second option at center field if the Nats decide that the price to sign Yoenis Cespedes is a little too much for them.
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While the Washington Nationals might not be the favorites to sign Fowler this winter, he would be a good piece to play center field and bring more depth to the top of the lineup along with Turner. With that 1-2 combo, it would give more run scoring opportunities for Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper.