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Dexter Fowler Signs With Cardinals

From Cubs World Series hero to the team’s biggest rival.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

As you have no doubt heard, Dexter Fowler has signed a multi-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, and he’s supposed to be introduced at a news conference in St. Louis Friday morning.

Well. That will make the next time we see Dex somewhat... awkward. From the link above:

Terms of the deal haven't been reported, but the Cardinals will have to give up a first-round pick for Fowler, who was tendered a qualifying offer by the Cubs.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman suggested the deal would be worth at least $16 million per year and be worth $80-90 million overall. St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Derrick Goold backed up that notion.

As you know, I wanted Dex to stay with the Cubs. But for that amount of money? Too much, I’d say. Also remember that this winter’s free-agent signings are governed by the previous CBA, so what’s noted above is correct -- the Cardinals lose their first-round pick and the Cubs get a supplemental pick that will follow the first round next June.

Dexter Fowler was a key contributor to the Cubs’ two postseason runs in 2015 and 2016 and particularly to the World Series victory this year. While the Cubs have many other fine hitters, it won’t be easy replacing him at the leadoff spot — nor in the clubhouse. Here’s just one example of his off-field leadership:

When the Astros’ young star George Springer was promoted to the majors in 2014, he practically spent all his free time away from the stadium at Fowler’s place.

“On the field, Dexter’s great,” said Bo Porter, who managed Fowler with the Astros in 2014. “I think the cherry on top with Dexter is the intangibles. He’s a professional.

“You know exactly what you’re getting with him. He’s a leader, not only by example but also if there’s something that needs to be said. He’s very educated, very mindful. I’ve watched him grow into the leader he is today. His leadership with Springer was great. I have nothing but great things to say about him.”

I’ve said before that I would like us, as Cubs fans, to be gracious winners. Thus, even though Fowler is going to be playing for the Cubs’ biggest rival, I wish him well. He’ll always be part of the Cubs family, always be remembered for things like his Game 7 home run.

I hope he plays up to the standards he’s set for himself in his career, with this exception: I hope Cubs pitchers retire him in every single at-bat he has against the team. That’s nothing more or less than I hope for every Cardinals player who comes to bat against the Cubs. This will make the Cubs’ season-opening series in St. Louis even more interesting than any Cubs/Cardinals series already is. The Cubs will have a second 2017 series in St. Louis (May 12-14) before the Cardinals head to Wrigley Field for the first time next year, June 2-4. By that time we should have a pretty good idea of how the 2017 season is taking shape. I would expect nothing less than a warm welcome and ovation for Fowler. I’ll certainly give him one.

Best of luck, Dexter -- though not too much, especially against the Cubs — and you’ll always, always be remembered as one of the 25 men who ended the Cubs’ World Series drought.

The Cubs, meanwhile, will move on, with Jon Jay — a former Cardinal — and Albert Almora Jr. likely platooning in center field, and with someone else in the leadoff spot. It’s been suggested by some that Ben Zobrist could fill this role, although it should be noted that Zobrist has a .238/.330/.376 career slash line batting leadoff (705 PA). Personally? I’d try Kyle Schwarber in that spot. He’s certainly not a traditional leadoff-type, but his on-base skills would work well there, I think.

One final note: Fowler will have to switch from the familiar No. 24 he wore with the Cubs (and also as a member of the Rockies). That number’s retired by the Cardinals for Whitey Herzog. (He also switched from No. 24 to No. 21 in Houston, as 24 is retired by the Astros for Jimmy Wynn.)