Fowler, who inked a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Cardinals in December, is expected to improve the team in several ways, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. "I think he's going to be a great fit, all the way around, in this community, on this team, in the lineup, in our clubhouse," manager Mike Matheny said. "[I'm] very, very excited about having him with us."
The veteran outfielder, who helped the Cubs to their first championship since 1908 last season, was brought to the division-rival Cardinals with the aim of improving the team's outfield defense, as well as to serve as a dynamic leadoff presence. The Cubs were notably 64-20 when Fowler had at least one hit last season, a testament to his table-setting skills at the top of the order. Additionally, his .367 career OBP when leading off ranks him as the fourth-best in that category for players with a minimum of 820 plate appearances since his rookie 2008 campaign. Fowler's savvy on the basepaths, which includes eight consecutive seasons with double-digit swipes, is also highly coveted by his new team, considering the Cardinals were last in the NL with 35 stolen bases in 2016. A residual benefit of his presence atop the lineup is that Matt Carpenter, who's served in that role for the last four seasons, will be able to slot into a spot more conducive to run production. Meanwhile, Fowler's ability to lock down center field will shift Randal Grichuk to left, where his glove will be considered an upgrade over the likes of the departed duo of Matt Holliday and Brandon Moss, who started a combined 143 games at the position in 2016.