Dexter Fowler deal Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Blue Jays have agreed on a Minor League deal with 14-year MLB veteran Dexter Fowler, a source tells MLB.com, continuing an overhaul of their outfield depth prior to the season.

The deal, which will include an invitation to MLB Spring Training, has not yet been made official by the club. Fowler, 36, missed nearly all of the 2021 season with the Angels after tearing his ACL on a slide in April.

“At the end of the day, these are the cards that have been dealt. So I have to deal with them and go at it like that. The doctor said I’m going to have a full recovery, so I’m excited to hear that. I want to continue to play and I think I still have a lot left in the tank.”

That opportunity now comes with Toronto, and Fowler will have the final days of camp to make a first impression.

Last week’s trade for Raimel Tapia from the Rockies helped to both solidify and diversify the Blue Jays’ MLB-level depth in the outfield, adding some speed and contact, but the addition of Fowler could round out the club’s off-roster group. Beyond George Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernández, Josh Palacios is the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster, so the Blue Jays may be an injury away from necessitating a move in-season.

Alongside Fowler, the group of Chavez Young, Mallex Smith and Nathan Lukes are in Major League camp as outfield depth. Those three appear ticketed for Triple-A Buffalo, and while Fowler’s fit in that mix or potential opt-out dates in his contract remain to be seen, the Blue Jays will be hoping he can recapture some of his 2019 form if he’s called upon at any point in ’22.

That year, at 33, Fowler hit .238 with a .754 OPS and 19 home runs over 150 games for the Cardinals. Any sort of regular role for Fowler in ’22 would require unexpected circumstances, but if that need arises, Fowler offers a switch-hitting bat that’s solid on both sides of the plate, albeit with slightly better numbers across his career against left-handed pitching .

There’s something to be said for Fowler’s experience, as well. While Smith brings speed and MLB experience, and Young still has some prospect upside at 24 plus great defensive play, Fowler has played more big league baseball than anyone on the current Blue Jays roster, and it’s not close.

A 14th-round pick by the Rockies all the way back in the 2004 Draft, Fowler has 5,902 plate appearances across his 14 seasons, including an All-Star appearance with the Cubs in 2016. He won a ring with Chicago that season, too, homering twice in the World Series, and he has played in 42 career postseason games.

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