ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently traveled to Las Vegas to meet with William Fowler and discuss the possibility of the veteran making the switch from center field to a corner spot in 2018, according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.Mozeliak reportedly wanted
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently traveled to Las Vegas to meet with William Fowler and discuss the possibility of the veteran making the switch from center field to a corner spot in 2018, according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Mozeliak reportedly wanted connect with Fowler in person to let him know the club has no intention to trade him, but also to make sure he understood the direction the team is heading in trying to improve its defense.
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"I wanted to meet with him face to face," Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch at the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla. "First off, I enjoy his company. Secondly, I did not want him to be hearing or reading about things that may or may not happen with him. I wanted him to know that he was not someone we were looking to trade. I did want him to understand that we may ask him to play a different position."
Fowler, 31, has never started a game in his 10-year MLB career in any position other than center field.
St. Louis signed Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million deal with a no-trade clause last offseason with the intention of having him serve as the club's primary center fielder and leadoff hitter. Fowler had one of his better offensive years, hitting .264/.363/.488 while setting career highs with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs despite being limited to 118 games because of various injuries.
Fowler started 109 of those games in center field, though the metrics weren't so forgiving of his performance there. Of the 17 players to log at least 900 innings in center field, Fowler ranked 16th with negative-18 defensive runs saved (DRS) and 15th with an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of -5.9.
He was hampered by injuries that affected his mobility, so that may explain some of the drop-off coming off a 2016 season in which he posted a DRS of plus-1. But the Cardinals also have a collection of center fielders, including Tommy Pham, who were on the big league club this year and could factor into the plans next season.
"There's no doubt, when you look at our outfield possibilities, we certainly have some flexibility," Mozeliak said last month. "We'll work through how we think we can optimize this current roster for next year, and then know how best to augment it as we go forward."
In addition to possibly realigning outfielders already on their roster, the Cardinals may add one, too. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported on Wednesday that the team has discussed "trade concepts" with the Marlins regarding Giancarlo Stanton. The club has also expressed interest in Miami's two other starting outfielders, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, though the Marlins aren't certain to be shopping either one.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.