Just when it seemed Dexter Fowler was going to sign with the Orioles, the deal was never officially announced. On Thursday, it was reported that Fowler, who turns 30 next month, will instead be returning to the Cubs in 2016. The outfielder heads back to his 2015 club for $8 million. 2017 carries a $9 million option and a $5 million buyout. He tallied seventeen homers and forty-six RBI, while batting .250 last season.
Previously in November, the Cubs offered the switch-hitter a $15.8 million qualifying offer. Instead of accepting it, Fowler chose to test the free agent market. A draft pick would’ve been attached as compensation had he signed somewhere else. It appeared Fowler would join free agent pitcher Yovani Gallardo in Baltimore, but while Gallardo is indeed going to be pitching his home games in Camden Yards on a two-year, $22 million contract, Fowler is instead taking a pay cut by passing up on Baltimore’s offer of three years, $35 million.
The Cubs also had additional activity, shipping Chris Coghlan to the Athletics for pitcher Aaron Brooks. The 25-year-old Brooks was 3-4 with a 6.71 ERA in nine starts last season. Brooks was dealt to Oakland from the Royals for Ben Zobrist, who signed with the Cubs over the Winter. He will turn 26 at the end of April.
Coghlan’s departure opens more space in the Cubbies outfield. While his 2015 numbers were similar to Fowler’s (.250, sixteen home runs, forty-one runs driven in), the move was necessary given Fowler’s return. The Cubs still possess an abundance of outfielders. Kyle Schwarber will be inserted at both left field and catcher over the course of this upcoming season. Then there’s prized free agent Jason Heyward, who will likely be playing right field, with Fowler in center. In regard to Jorge Soler, who has been seen as potential trade bait before, if he is going anywhere, it won’t be soon. CSN Chicago’s Tony Andracki tweeted that Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein does not plan to move Soler. Thus, things are set for now.