The St. Louis Cardinals handed out a 5 year deal to a player who had his best year in his age 30 season. That peak, by the way, is a .276 AVG, .393 OBP, 13 HR, 48 RBI and 13 SB. Good enough for a 4.2 WAR.
The Cardinals overpaid for Dexter Fowler (the deal likely around $15 million per year), no doubt about it. But, at this point in time, it was a move they had to make.
The Cardinals outfield production was pretty average last season, and now Matt Holliday will be playing in the Bronx. With Stephen Piscotty the only consistent outfielder remaining on the roster, the Cardinals had few options.
Jose Bautista was an option, and he played 91 games in right field last season in Toronto. But he will be entering his age 36 season and may provide little more than what the Cards got out of Matt Holliday, at a much higher price.
Ian Desmond signed for less money (5 years, $70 million) to play for the Rockies. Desmond will likely play left field for the Rockies, but did appear in 130 games in center for the Texas Rangers last season. His performance in center was below league average, but he can man the position.
Fowler is better defensively than Desmond (slightly) and has a higher OBP, but the power isn’t there when compared to Desmond. However, the Cardinals needed a top of the order presence. While they could use a thumper in the middle of the line-up, an adequate defensive center fielder who can man the leadoff position was exactly what they needed.
The Fowler signing is not great, but if the Cards want to play in a do-or-die Wild Card game (they aren’t catching the Cubs in 2017), they had to spend big money on a slightly above average player.
**Photo credit to d-deee on flickr*P*