For the second consecutive season, Dexter Fowler finds himself in free agency, hoping for a long term deal. Last season he “settled” for one year back on the Chicago Cubs. He might end up going back to where he won a World Series, but the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays are also in the picture.
Fowler signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Cubs last season after waiting a bit too long to find the right place during free agency, which resulted in all the big-money outfield spots being filled. He came back to the Cubs and was fantastic. He made the All-Star game for the first time, clubbing 13 home runs, batting .276 and finishing with a career-best 126 OPS+. Fowler will be turning 31 just before the season begins.
Now the Cubs would like to keep Fowler. They offered him a qualifying offer ($17.2 million) but he declined it. This makes it difficult taking him away from them, costing any team that does it a draft pick. Fowler isn’t going to make $17 million a season on a long term deal, but he’s looking for some stability and not trying to find a new workplace each season. A four year deal paying him around $15 million give or take sounds like a reasonable projection.
The Blue Jays are going to lose both Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders this offseason, or at least one of them. Kevin Pillar has the CF spot locked down, which means moving Fowler, or anyone else who signs, to one of the corner spots, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Fowler. He might not provide the power that Bautista does, but he’s much younger and a superior defensive player. There hasn’t been a lot of news regarding Bautista or Saunders, who might be looking for a lot more money than everyone thinks they’re worth. The Blue Jays also tried trading Saunders last season, so they’re not that eager to re-sign him.
As for the Yankees, they’re looking to trade Brett Gardner while both Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin are inexperienced. Fowler doesn’t give them elite power, but he fills in every other need the Yankees have in their outfield, which also has Jacoby Ellsbury. Fowler, is he goes to New York, will probably play in one of the corner positions too. However, Fowler will probably have to wait for Edwin Encarnacion to make his decision before he gets an offer he likes.