Update, February 25, 2016: In a surprising turn of events, the Cubs announced a signing of Fowler. Read about the controversy here.
The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reported Tuesday.
A pair of reports from ESPN's Buster Olney and MLB Network's Jon Heyman say that the deal is a three-year contract and is worth $33 million. Since the deal is not official, it is still pending a physical.
The Orioles get a deal done with Fowler just days after solidifying their rotation with Yovani Gallardo. However, the latter deal may fall apart, as concerns have been raised with Gallardo's physical. This puts Fowler's pending physical under more scrutiny.
Physical aside, Fowler will cost the Orioles either their first or second round pick (depending on whether the Gallardo deal goes through). He was offered a qualifying offer from his former team, the Cubs, at the beginning of the offseason in November.
That is part of the reason why Fowler remained unsigned for so long. Teams apparently were not willing to forfeit a draft pick in order to sign Fowler, leaving him without an employer until now.
That is not saying that Fowler was not a good performer by any means.
In fact, he was quite valuable last season, hitting .250/.346/.411 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs in 690 plate appearances. Fowler, soon to be 30, added 20 stolen bases in 27 attempts. According to FanGraphs, he was worth a solid 3.2 fWAR, good for 11th in the Major Leagues amongst center fielders.
Fowler makes a good Orioles offense even better.
The team already boasts Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Mark Trumbo in the middle of the order, and now Fowler gives them a fantastic leadoff presence.
In the outfield, Fowler helps as well. Orioles' outfielders posted the second-worst wRC+ in 2015, likely due to the fact that only Adam Jones was considered an above-average bat there.
While it will cost the Orioles a draft pick, Fowler, especially at just $11 million per season, is a valuable upgrade for a team that is looking to capture the AL East in 2016.