Fowler batted .233 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 23 games last season, his fourth with St. Louis. The switch-hitting former Rockies and Cubs slugger is a career .259 hitter with 127 homers and 561 RBIs.
Fowler, who turns 35 next month, can play all three outfield positions. Although Fowler’s production has declined in recent years, the Angels see the veteran as an important leader for their clubhouse and a short-term solution in right field so they can give more minor league development time to Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh.
“He’s an outstanding human being, and he’s a high-energy player,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “Over a 162-game season, energy is important, and this guy brings that smile, that energy on a daily basis. And we still think he can play. We think there’s a lot left in the tank. The homework we’ve done, he’s put in a ton of work this offseason. For him to waive his no-trade clause … it’s an honor.”
|With Cubs*||With Cards|
|* Under Joe Maddon from 2015 to ’16|
Fowler also is costing the Angels only $1.75 million in salary.
He is headed into his 13th full big league season in the final year of a five-year, $82 million contract. He has a $14.5 million salary in 2021, and St. Louis remains responsible for the two final $1 million installments of his $10 million signing bonus, due July 1 and Oct. 1.
As part of the trade, the Cardinals agreed to pay the Angels $12.75 million in 12 installments of $1,062,500 on the 15th and final day of each month from April through September.
Fowler’s switch-hitting abilities will provide a counterpart to right-handed-hitting Angels outfielders Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Adell. Taylor Ward also is expected to compete for a roster spot in the Halos’ outfield in spring training.
The 21-year-old Adell, the Halos’ top prospect, struggled in his major league debut last season as their everyday right fielder, batting .161 with a .478 OPS over 38 games. Fowler’s presence will allow Adell’s development to proceed more deliberately in 2021.
“We like [Fowler] in right field, and we feel like offensively he’s going to bring a lot to the lineup,” Minasian said. “We feel really good about Jo. We think Jo is going to have an outstanding career, and we feel like at some point this year, he’s going to impact this club.”
Fowler earned his only All-Star selection and his only World Series ring in 2016 with Chicago under current Angels manager Joe Maddon.
Fowler is the third veteran who played under Maddon at a previous stop to join the Angels in this offseason, along with former Cubs starter Jose Quintana and former Rays starter Alex Cobb. Minasian and Maddon began working together only three months ago, but the rookie GM says their philosophies are already quite similar.
“We want a certain type of player, and I think Joe and I are really aligned in this,” Minasian said. “We want a certain type of makeup, a certain mentality, and him putting his stamp on those players make them more desirable.”
Fowler has spent just one season of his career in the American League, playing for Houston in 2014.