The a St. Louis Cardinals found themselves a center fielder on the open market, coming to terms with Dexter Fowler on a multiyear contract, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports. Ken Rosenthal reports that it’s a five-year, $82.5 million deal with a full no-trade clause.
Fowler will take his physical in St. Louis on Friday, according to Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports.
Fowler was a key part of the Chicago Cubs teams that combined for 200 wins in the past two seasons, and the leadoff man and center fielder of the reigning World Series champions.
The switch-hitter, who turns 31 in March, hit .276/.393/.447 with 25 doubles, seven triples, and 13 home runs in 2016, walking 79 times in 125 games while setting a career high in on-base percentage.
Fowler was a free agent last season, too, and returned to the Cubs at the start of spring training on a one-year, $13 million contract. There was a mutual option worth $9 million for 2017, but Fowler opted out after the World Series, instead hitting the open market.
"You can't control what goes on, but I loved my time in Chicago, and I'm definitely not counting them out, but we'll see what God has planned for us now," Fowler said in an interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Nov. 3.
Fowler declined the Cubs’ qualifying offer — a one-year deal worth $17.2 million — meaning St. Louis will forfeit its first-round selection in the 2017 MLB draft for signing him. The Cubs will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds.
In parts of nine major league seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, and the Cubs, Fowler has hit .268/.366/.422. He has averaged 43 extra-base hits, 16 stolen bases, and 69 walks in the last eight seasons.