It was all smiles for Mike Matheny, Dexter Fowler and John Mozeliak during Friday's press conference at Busch Stadium. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to the largest contract in franchise history for a player who was not already in the organization on Friday. Here are 10 takeaways from the deal:

1. Forget about the money. For the record, the deal covers five years and is worth $82.5 million, an average of $16.5 million a season. That’s a total of $2.5 million more for the same period than Mike Leake received last winter. Whether he is actually worth that or not is irrelevant. It’s the price of doing business in the major leagues these days, and general manager John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. realized that, knowing even though it is a lucrative contract, it really does nothing to change the Cardinals’ payroll structure. Fowler, at least in the short term, basically is being paid what the team has paid the departed Matt Holliday for the last several seasons.

2. Signing Fowler was better than making a trade. One reality which set in during the winter meetings this week was how much teams were asking for in trade negotiations. Outfielders were available, but the price the Cardinals would have had to pay to acquire any of those players would have been, in Mozeliak’s viewpoint, exorbitant in terms of the prospects the Cardinals would have had to trade. Signing Fowler allows the Cardinals to hold onto those prospects, which again helps hold down the overall costs of future payrolls.

3. He was worth a first-round draft pick. The Cardinals place a tremendous value on their draft selections, knowing they have been the biggest key to putting together a quality roster. Giving up their first-round pick in the draft next June was not something the Cardinals did easily, but Mozeliak called the signing of Fowler a “unique opportunity” that the team thought was worth it. “It’s not something you want to do every year,” he said. The Cardinals selected several high-school players in the most recent draft, and also signed multiple players even younger than that in the international free agent market, so they have a solid pipeline of young players who will be moving through the organization in the next couple of years. They also have been awarded a competitive balance pick after the second round in next year’s draft, so they will still be getting two of approximately the top 75 players in the draft next year.

4. Fowler will change the structure of the lineup. Fowler is coming off a season in which he ranked sixth in the National League with a .393 on-base percentage, the best among the league’s leadoff hitters. The fact he is a switch-hitter adds another element the Cardinals have been missing in their lineup. Having another hitter at the top of the lineup who gets on base consistently will provide more run-producing opportunities for the hitters following him in the batting order. The Cardinals will not hit as many home runs next year, but they should be able to score more runs thanks to Fowler’s presence at the top of the lineup.

5. Carpenter should buy into a different role.
One of the unusual facts in Carpenter’s career is that as good of a hitter as he has been, he has always struggled when he was not in the leadoff spot. For Fowler to really be effective in the leadoff role for the Cardinals, Carpenter will have to hit well too, probably out of the third spot. Trying to explain why Carpenter has not had success anywhere other than the leadoff spot has been difficult, but Mozeliak put an interesting spin on that on Friday. Maybe, he said, it was because Carpenter didn’t think the team had an adequate replacement for him in the leadoff spot. Now they do.

6. Fowler will change the personality of the Cardinals.
One fact was immediately evident at Friday’s news conference at Busch Stadium: Fowler will inject some life into this team. “If I go into a clubhouse we’re going to have fun,” Fowler said. “I believe that’s going to make us better. We’ll get some of the guys out of their shells … it’s important to read personalities. You’ve got to see what makes guys click. You’ve got to see who’s outgoing, who’s not. You just have to read people, that’s walking into any situation. I like to sit back and observe first, my parents always taught me that. I have a personality, I don’t mind talking. To change a culture, I don’t know, but I just think being there and offering what I have to offer I think that helps guys.”

7. Fowler will help improve the defense and baserunning
. He has played center field in Coors Field in Denver and at Wrigley Field in Chicago, two of the more challenging ballparks in the league, which should make his transition to playing at Busch Stadium a smooth one. He has been a consistent defender over the years, and installing him in center field will move Randal Grichuk to left field, improving the defense at that position as well. Fowler also is a smart baserunner, even though he does not steal a lot of bases – only stealing more than 20 just once in his career. The Cardinals do not need to steal a lot more bases to become better at running the bases, another aspect of his game which Fowler has done well for years.

8. Fowler is coming to St. Louis to win
. “Winning is addictive,” Fowler said, adding that his number one goal in deciding where to sign was whether it was a winning team. “The Cardinals are always in the hunt,” he said. “That was a big part of my decision.”

9. The move should keep the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry at an intense level. Last winter it was the Cubs who signed two free agents away from the Cardinals in Justin Heyward and John Lackey. Taking away the Cubs’ catalyst kind of returns the favor, and will leave Fowler in a unique position when he walks to the plate for the first time as a Cardinal on opening day on April 2 – it will be against the team he just helped win the World Series.

10. Don’t expect the Cardinals to make another major move
. Mozeliak said Friday he does not think his work for the winter is done, but called it much more likely the team will be looking to add a “complimentary piece.” “As for a bolder type move, I don’t envision it at this time,” Mozeliak said. The team wants Carpenter to play first base, Kolten Wong to play second, Aledmys Diaz to play short and believes they can get by at third with a combination of Jhonny Peralta and Jedd Gyorko. That does not leave room for another major addition.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains