Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs had the busiest February 25 in MLB history. Okay, maybe not, but it’s gotta be up there.
In case you missed it, Chris Coghlan was traded to the Oakland Athletics and then, not moments later, Dexter Fowler walked into Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona to surprise the Cubs and unexpectedly joined the team.
We kept up to date around here, as everything unfolded – and eventually recapped the events using Twitter, here – but now that the insanity has died down, let’s take a beat and recap the day, bullet-style, while sharing and discussing some of the relevant material since.
- If you’re looking for a total recap or timeline of events that occurred on Thursday, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers has you covered. Starting at 11:02 am with the trade of Chris Coghlan, Rogers walks us through the day and the events as the unfolded. Want the cliff notes on the day? This is it.
- Otherwise, let’s start at the beginning. The Chicago Cubs surprised us all by trading Chris Coghlan to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for 25-year-old right hander Aaron Brooks. Carrie Muskat has a write-up on the deal at Cubs.com, which includes quotes from Brooks (who seems excited to join the Cubs – even as starting pitching depth) and Joe Maddon (who says Chris Coghlan is decidedly bummed about having to leave Chicago).
- Analyzing the deal (and subsequent fallout) from both the Cubs’ and A’s perspective is Rian Watt and Bryan Grosnick of Baseball Prospectus. Grosnick discusses Coghlan’s pros and cons, as well as his fit on the Athletics – calling the deal a win for the A’s on paper, even if Coghlan is an imperfect fit for the Cubs’ team. While Watt, then, takes a look at the net-change from Coghlan to Fowler, noting the multiple positional downstream impacts, as a result. There are … a lot of options.
- Before we transition into more Fowler-dedicated items, one last piece from Mark Gonzalez (Chicago Tribune) indicates that the Coghlan trade was financially necessary to go forward with the free agent signing of Fowler. Coghlan was scheduled to make $4.8 million in 2016, which will now be entirely covered by the A’s, while Fowler will likely make $13 million in his one season with the Cubs (more on that in a bit). Epstein has said that the financial flexibility to make in season moves has not been affected.
- So now, finally, we get to the Cubs’ deal with Dexter Fowler. Carrie Muskat has your straight-forward write-up on the deal, including quotes from Fowler, Maddon and Epstein. Fowler signed a one-year, $8 million contract that includes a $5 million buyout and a $9 million mutual option for 2017. On why he rejected long-term deals elsewhere, including a three-year offer from the Orioles, Fowler said, “My heart’s here.”
- Speaking of the Orioles deal he left on the table and the fallout thereafter, is Roch Kubatko of MASN has you covered here. According to Orioles Vice President Dan Duquette, per Kubatko, the Orioles “made a very competitive offer [but] the issue was the opt-out.” Ultimately, it would appear, Fowler prefers to take a one year gamble on himself in 2016 rather than have a three-year guarantee with the Orioles, without an opt-out in place after the first year. Having essentially guaranteed $13 million from the Cubs, Fowler just has to beat a 2-year $20 million deal in 2017 to top the Orioles’ offer. I think he’ll beat that just fine.
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago) then comes in with an excellent piece on why the surprise came to be and how the nobody saw the move coming ahead of time. “It was really to give Dex his moments with his teammates,” Epstein said, per Andracki, “His teammates and the desire to be part of this team, those are the driving reasons why he’s back here.”
- And, boy were his teammates
confusedhappy. David Ross gave Fowler a hug and said “Man, I’m gonna miss ya,” not fully understanding the situation at hand, and thinking Fowler had come back to say goodbye [Brett: That’s what I thought was happening, too]. “Theo got us all,” Ross said, per Andracki, “Theo pulled one over.” For more on the reactions and surprise, check out Andracki’s piece at CSN Chicago.
- Now that Fowler is on the team – and everyone from the Orioles to David Ross is aware of the situation – what’s next? At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan writes that the Cubs have addressed their last big question: center field. Although Sullivan believes Heyward could have handled center field just fine, moving him back to his natural right field clears a direct path back to 5+WAR for the 26-year-old. As for Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber, Sullivan believes they’ll split time in left field. I have all kinds of thoughts on this outfield shakeup, and I’m sure Brett does, too, but we’ll get to those as Spring Training plays out. Short version: no one should be assuming that these moves completely moved Soler to the bench on a daily basis.
- Channeling and answering almost any question you may have, is Jesse Rogers from ESPN Chicago. From playing time in the outfield, to the lineup, to Schwarber behind the plate and more, Rogers answers a series of questions related to the signing of Dexter Fowler.
- Although we may rarely see the same lineup or defensive alignment two days in a row, you can’t argue with the immense flexibility this Cubs roster provides. It’s going to be up to Joe Maddon to manage the juggling act, that will be the 2016 season.
- Now that Fowler has resigned with the Cubs, the team will not gain an additional pick in the compensatory round of the 2016 MLB Draft and their spending pool will remain extremely small. If you’re still confused, I’ll have a short bit up later, explaining how the draft pick situation has changed from October to February, with each relevant offseason transaction. It was simultaneously complicated and simple.
And, lastly, watch Fowler discuss his return: