The Cubs announced Fowler agreed to terms on a one-year deal for 2016 with a mutual option for 2017.
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Fowler will make $8 million in base salary this season, with his option for 2017 at $9 million and a $5 million buyout. Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Fowler then ends up with $13 million in guaranteed money.
However, per Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, Fowler's deal with the Orioles fell through because the team didn't want to give him an early opt-out.
Fowler said Chicago is "where my heart is" and confirmed he turned down a three-year offer from another club, though he did not say which it was, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
While the Orioles will be scratching their heads following another unusual contract situation, the Cubs were happy to welcome Fowler back into the fold:
Chicago Cubs @Cubs
Hey, @DexterFowler. Welcome back. #LetsGo https://t.co/kya8LOU8cI2/25/2016, 5:35:01 PM
Bringing Fowler back, though, does nothing to alleviate the logjam already present in Chicago's outfield.
The team did announce prior to re-signing Fowler that Chris Coghlan had been traded to the Oakland Athletics, but even with Coghlan out of the picture, the Cubs now have Fowler, Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber all battling for three outfield spots. Javier Baez will also be taking reps in the outfield this spring.
Epstein said after the deal was announced that Fowler felt there were still things left to accomplish in Chicago, per Sarah Lauch of CSN Original:
Sarah Lauch @SarahLauch
Theo "good communication and Dexter decided this was home and unfinished biz here. Went fit over $. Says a lot about him and this culture"2/25/2016, 6:03:44 PM
There are certainly lineup options Cubs manager Joe Maddon can play with, something he's loved doing throughout his career.
One possible solution is having Schwarber, who had a .481 OPS against left-handed pitching last season, sit against southpaws. Fowler, a switch-hitter, has a higher career OPS against lefties (.829) than righties (.761).
Soler is a wildly talented player, but he's also been susceptible to injury. The 24-year-old missed 61 games last season and played only 62 games in the minors two years ago. Jason Heyward, who is traditionally a right fielder, has never been asked to play center field for a full season.
It's not necessarily a bad problem to have so much talent in the outfield, but that's a lot of players battling for playing time. Unless the Cubs are working on a potential deal involving at least one other outfielder, Epstein and Maddon will have to create a lot of at-bats for their crowded roster.
Stats per Baseball-Reference.com.
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