Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter talk before a St. Louis Cardinals game.

(Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Mozeliak Envisions Carpenter-Fowler at Top of Cards Future Lineup

With three years and $49.5 million left on Fowler's contract, John Mozeliak is optimistic about the outfielder's future role in St. Louis.

September 25, 2018 - 9:50 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - When thinking about the St. Louis Cardinals 2019 outfield, it may be tough for fans to imagine 32-year-old Dexter Fowler jumping back in front of Jose Martinez's .305 batting average and forcing Tyler O'Neill's .512 slugging percentage out of right field. However, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak isn't just looking at Fowler's last five months of baseball when he pictures next year's lineup for St. Louis. 

Mozeliak told KMOX's Sports on a Sunday Morning host Mike Kelly that he believes St. Louis' future lineup still have Matt Carpenter hitting leadoff and Dexter Fowler right behind him. Fowler's career .360 on-base percentage in 10 previous MLB seasons has Mozeliak optimistic, even after a historic bummer of a season, hitting .180/.278/.298 with eight home runs and 31 RBI.

"(Fowler) understands what the landscape looks like," Mozeliak says. "And he was originally signed because we were looking for somebody with a high on-base (percentage) from the left side and would also compliment Carp. I still envision that as something that is going to happen." 

In recent weeks, Fowler has rejoined his teammates in the Cardinals clubhouse and on the road after fracturing his left foot while running the bases on August 3rd. He shared video on his Instagram story Monday afternoon of the protective boot off his left foot while receiving treatment. The next time he'll be back on the field though won't be until spring training 2019.

"Between now and April he has a lot of work to do," Mozeliak says. "He still has to get himself to a point where he can still push himself. From a physical standpoint we have time on our side, from a baseball standpoint we have time on our side. So I think he's ready to rejoin this team, but obviously it's not going to be until 2019."

Fowler is in the second year of a five-year deal (which includes a no-trade clause) and is still owed $49.5 million. But there are a few reasons why Mozeliak's optimism shouldn't be overlooked and Fowler's 2018 season is probably just an outlier. 

Last year, Fowler had career-highs in home runs (18) and RBI (64). His on-base plus slugging of .851 was also the best for Fowler seen since his days hitting in Colorado's thin air. And as Fowler told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold, the St. Louis' first-half management style was another possible cause for a down year. 

After the firing of Mike Matheny, Fowler was in the lineup for 15 of St. Louis' next 17 games and new manager Mike Shildt was rewarded with a couple home runs, a .202 batting average and .313 OBP (which were improvements).

Below, you can listen to the full conversation between Mozeliak and Kelly: