Spring Training reporting dates are just a little more than a week away, and, among other free agents, Dexter Fowler remains unsigned. It makes me a little sad.
But business is business, and, at this point, Fowler is simply going to have to try and get the best deal he can, even if it means taking a one-year deal and trying again next offseason. It’s a far cry from where the 29-year-old projected to be back when he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Cubs, and the draft pick cost that attached to him thereafter has clearly torpedoed his market in unforeseen ways.
As it stands, the teams that should be in on Fowler are easier to list than the teams that actually are.
At some point, does the same become true with respect to the Cubs and Fowler? At two years and $20 million, even though it would effectively cost the Cubs their second round draft pick, I’d argue that the Cubs would simply have to pull the trigger. There’s too much value in signing Fowler to a deal like that, even if it complicates the outfield situation, even if there are no deals out there involving Soler/Coghlan/pitching, and even if it stretches the budget. Bring in the valuable asset when the opportunity presents itself, figure out the details later.
That said, I still don’t think that’s the route Fowler would go, assuming he has reasonable other options out there – perhaps even one-year offers – to get more clear starting time.
How about a two-year, $20 million deal for Fowler, but he gets an opt out after the first year (aka, the second year is a player option)? There’s got to be a team or five out there willing to give him the deal, even if he costs them a draft pick. That’s a steal.
Once Fowler signs – assuming it’s not with the Cubs – you are reminded that the Cubs will get a compensatory draft pick. That pick will, in turn, be lost because the Cubs signed two qualified free agents (they lose their top two picks), but then they get their second round draft pick back (which is currently lost). That is to say: when Fowler signs, the Cubs get their second rounder back.