Fowler welcomes reunion with Maddon

February 24th, 2021

With a full no-trade clause as part of the five-year contract he signed with the Cardinals before the 2017 season, could have halted his trade to the Angels earlier this month.

But Fowler was excited to be reunited with manager Joe Maddon and didn’t hesitate to waive his clause to ensure the trade went through. Fowler, who played under Maddon with the Cubs from 2015-16, is slated to be the Angels’ starting right fielder, which allows former top prospect to get more seasoning in the Minors.

“I knew what I was getting with Joe and loved playing for him the two years that I did,” said Fowler, whose 2016 season with Maddon culminated in a World Series championship. “I had kept in touch with him. I knew he liked me as a player so just being able to be traded here to a veteran team with a chance to win, that was obviously my mindset.” 

Fowler, who will turn 35 on March 22, is coming off a down season with the Cardinals, posting a slash line of .233/.317/.389 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 31 games. But he also dealt with a stomach ailment during the season that caused him to miss three weeks in September and he struggled in his return, going 2-for-22 in eight games the rest of the way. He had a respectable line of .279/.347/.485 before his bout with ulcerative colitis, which is something he’s had to deal with the past 10 years.

Fowler is feeling better now, however and believes he can bounce back, especially with regular at-bats. The switch-hitter also noted he hasn’t seen lefties as much in recent years, which has caused his numbers to dip against southpaws.

“I was playing pretty good, leading the team in almost every category, but I had to sit because of my colitis, and I had to battle through that,” Fowler said. “So I’m just trying to pick up where I left off before I was hurt. It’s a different atmosphere here, and I’m excited to play for Joe. He lets you be yourself. It’s a winning atmosphere, and I think we can go to the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs.”

Maddon has plenty of trust in Fowler and envisions him getting at-bats against both righties and lefties. Fowler was 2-for-17 against left-handers in 2020 but is a career .282/.374/.422 hitter against lefties compared to .251/.352/.417 against right-handers.

"He can really get streaky hot with the bat left-handed and actually was a good right-handed hitter, too,” Maddon said. “I know the right-handed numbers haven't been as good in recent years. It really amazes me because if you look at him fundamentally, mechanically, I love his right-handed swing. It's really short to the ball. I expect him to hit well right-handed."

Maddon also believes that Fowler will have a positive effect on the clubhouse chemistry. The manager noted that Fowler was a leader on the Cubs team that won the World Series in ’16. Fowler said the key is bringing all of the players together and to avoid having cliques within the club.

“There’s his gregarious personality, progressive smile, everything that he brings to the clubhouse every day,” Maddon said. “He brings a lot of positive energy. And that's what he did so well in Chicago. Talking to him the last couple days, it's like no time has passed. He's the same guy. I'm really looking forward to seeing the impact he has on us."