As expected, the Cubs extended a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Dexter Fowler on Friday afternoon. He has a week to accept the offer, but sources — not to mention common sense — indicate that he plans to decline it and become a free agent. It’s unlikely that he’ll re-sign with the Cubs on a long-term deal, but at least they’ll get a first round draft pick from whatever team he does settle with.
This is kind of a bittersweet ending though, as Fowler ended up being a really nice get for the Cubs. He ended up providing pretty much everything they could have asked for after coming over from Houston for Luis Valbuena in a trade last offseason. As a switch-hitting centerfielder who filled the leadoff spot admirably, Fowler was a nice catalyst for the Cubs offense. He had some slumps here and there, but his 102 runs led the team and he patrolled center with more skill that people initially expected.
Fowler will turn 30 prior to the start of the 2016 season, so this figures to be his last shot at a really significant deal. He also had a really solid season for a team that got quite a bit of hype, so his marketability is as high as it’s ever going to be. A Fangraphs article from the other day listed a crowdsourced estimate of 4 years, $56 million, though I think that’s a bit low.
I’m sure some folks will wonder why Fowler would turn down nearly $16 million for what figures to be a winner in Chicago when he’s expected to make about that same amount annually somewhere else, but they’d be missing the point. First, I think he may closer to a total in the mid-$60-million range. Second, no player in his right mind is going to take a one-year deal and leave more money and years on the table.
Best wishes, Dex, and thanks for the great season.
In other news, the Cubs claimed righty reliever Ryan Cook off waivers from the Red Sox.
Cook, 28, is 13-12 with 17 saves and a 3.43 ERA (79 ER/207.0 IP) in 217 major league relief appearances in all or part of five major league campaigns with Arizona (2011), Oakland (2012-15) and Boston (2015). He has struck out 210 batters in 207.0 innings while walking 89 and allowing only 13 home runs. Cook has limited foes to a .217 batting average against and has held right-handed hitters to only a .190 batting average, .262 on-base percentage and .272 slugging percentage.
The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Cook broke into the big leagues with Arizona in 2011 before being traded to Oakland that offseason. In his first full major league campaign, Cook made the 2012 American League All-Star team and went 6-2 with 14 saves and a 2.09 ERA in 71 outings with the Athletics. He followed that up by going 6-4 with two saves and a 2.54 in 71 appearances a year later. Cook was slowed by injuries in 2014 but still posted a 3.42 ERA in 54 big league outings.
Nothing spectacular, but the strikeout numbers are nice and the production against right-handed hitters is excellent. Specifically…
You can never have too many bullpen arms, so picking a former All-Star up on the cheap like this is a nice move. The Cubs 40-man roster now sits at 30, so there’s plenty more wheeling and dealing to come. Sign ’em all, Theo!