Pitchers and catchers report to Arizona in less than one month to begin preparing for the 2016 season. Most players know what team they are going to play for in 2016. But what about outfielder Dexter Fowler?
Fowler was the Chicago Cubs starting center fielder last season and was one player that helped the Cubs reach the National League Champion Series. After the season was over, the Cubs gave Fowler a qualifying offer that he rejected. In doing so, Fowler decided to bet on himself and test free agency. The move is not paying off as its January, 23rd and he’s still looking for a team.
A guy who is still in his prime (29-years old) and has good onbase skills, can steal and is great in the clubhouse. why is he still looking for a team? Fowler wants a long-term contact and many teams want to give him a shorter term contract. Will Fowler have to lower his demands or will a team bite? Which side will blink first?
Cubs’ President of Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have had only praise for Fowler when asked about him. The Cubs were interested in Fowler on a contract less than three years but Fowler wanted more years. The Cubs instead signed Jason Heyward to a 8-year contract for 184 million with an opt-out after the 3rd year to play center field. Could the Cubs still be in pay for Fowler? Of Course, there’s always that possibility.
But I don’t know how realistic that scenario is.
The Cubs have talked about trading Jorge Soler, but those rumors have seem to die down. The Cubs may have more interest in bringing back Austin Jackson. The interest level in Jackson is to be seen. Even if the Cubs trade Soler, I don’t know of the money is there to bring back Fowler. That’s where Jackson’s name comes up in the Cubs rumor mill since he’ll be cheaper on a shorter team contract. Hoyer was asked about Fowler at the Cubs convention and kept praising Fowler. Hoyer did not say they were not still interested in bringing him back, however. For whatever it is worth. The Cubs lost their first two draft picks by signing Heyward and John Lackey, but if Fowler signs elsewhere, the Cubs will get a second round back.
Fowler’s teams are dwindling down and hard to predict what team he will go to. The San Francisco Giants were believe to have interest in Fowler, but the Giants signed Denard Span to a 3-year contract instead. The New York Mets were said to be ‘kicking the tires’ on Fowler but the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes to a 3-year contract for 75 million with an opt-out after the 1st year. Along with the Cubs, those were two teams heavily tagged to Fowler all off-season.
There are three teams that stick out to me when it comes to signing Fowler and makes sense for all three clubs. The Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals.
The Nationals made a run at Cespedes and were thought to be on the verge of signing him until the Mets gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The Nationals have the money as there offer to Cespedes was for 5 years and over 100 million. The Nationals outbid a lot of teams on free agents this year, but nothing to show for it. Ben Zobrist and Heyward took less money to sign with the Cubs and Cespedes did the same to re-sign with the Mets. The Nationals may still want to make a splash, (Daniel Murghy is not a splash) could Fowler be the guy?
The Nationals don’t have to be in an urgent to do so as they have Jayson Werth, Ben Revere and Bryce Harper roaming the outfield. However, Werth is up there in age and has trouble staying healthy these days. Fowler would be good insurance on the Nationals and can move Revere to the 4th outfield. Depth is everything in the world of professional sports.
The Angels say they are not in on any free agent outfielders but never doubt them. The Angels jumped in last minute in the Albert Pujols derby and the Josh Hamilton derby, ultimately signing both of those players. If the past years mean anything, it’s not to believe what the Angels are saying. The Angels have a need for an outfielder as they have all 4th outfielders, besides Mike Trout. If the price is right, don’t count out the Angels on signing Fowler.
The White Sox have been pretty quiet this off-season and they do need another bat. The White Sox have been consistent with saying they will not go beyond three years on an outfielder. But Fowler is still in his prime and would be an nice addition to the ball club. He brings on-base skills, leadership ability and the lead off mentality.
The White Sox have not yet counter their division foes as the Kansas site Royals re-signed Alex Gordon and last week the Detroit Tigers signed Justin Upton. If the season ended today, the White would go with Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia in the outfield. I’m not saying that’s a horrible outfield, but Fowler would definitely be an upgrade.
With spring training right around the corner, I think Fowler signs within the next two weeks. To who? I’m going to go with the White Sox. The Sox need another bat, he’s young, won’t be too expensive and need to counter their rivals moves. If the Sox still don’t want to give a contract over three years, I can see them structuring the contract like the Mets just gave Cespedes. A contract in the atmosphere of 3 years, around 70 million and an opt out after year one or year two.
Where do you think Fowler signs and do you think the White Sox is a good fit? Let me hear you!