Tha Sports Junkies 101

Dexter Fowler Has Played His Last Game for the Cubs

Dexter Fowler AshMarshall via


With young talent and budding stars, Dexter Fowler is the odd man out in Chicago

Coming off a 103-win season and World Series title in 2016, the Chicago Cubs have a chance to be even better in 2017. Center fielder Dexter Fowler who had a wonderful 2016 season, may not be a part of the plans for the Cubs. In his second season on the north side, Fowler hit 13 home runs and drove in 48 runs. Considering that Fowler lead off for the historic 2016 Cubs, those are great stats. Even after turning in one of the best seasons of his career, Fowler may not be playing on the north side in 2017.

It took Fowler all off-season to sign with the Cubs for 2016. The center fielder turned down the Cubs qualifying offer last winter and decided to test free agency. Even after receiving a multi-year deal from the Baltimore Orioles, Fowler decided to return to Chicago. This year, the newly-minted world champion Fowler has also turned down the Cubs qualifying offer, and decided to become a free agent. Instead of signing a one-year deal, Fowler and his agent will be seeking a long-term deal that puts more cash in Fowler’s pocket. Some experts have estimated Fowler’s value at around $80 million for five years. That may be to steep of a price to pay for the Cubs who have multiple in-house options to replace Fowler.

On April 7th, 2015, the Cubs lost left fielder Kyle Schwarber to a knee injury. Schwarber was diagnosed with a torn ACL and missed the entire regular season. It was the injury to Schwarber that prompted the Cubs to platoon left field. The obvious replacement for Schwarber was Jorge Soler, but after some struggles at the plate, Soler started losing at-bats.

Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Chris Coghlan, Willson Contreras, and Albert Almora were all used as replacements for Schwarber.

With the injury to Schwarber, the Cubs were forced to play guys that they would not have played if Schwarber would have stayed healthy. Contreras, for example, was promoted to be big leagues primarily to catch. He, just like Schwarber, can also play the outfield which led to him gaining valuable experience.

Albert Almora was another player that the Cubs had not planned on playing in 2016. He filled in nicely for the Cubs when Fowler hit the shelf with a hamstring injury, and missed an extended amount of time. In 112 at-bats, Almora hit .277 with 14 RBI’s and three home runs. Even more impressive than his offensive numbers is his defense. He showed defensive skill beyond his years, and proved that he may be ready to take on a full work load in 2017.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this situation is Javier Baez. With second baseman Ben Zobrist playing some in left field, Baez got the start at second base. Baez received 421 at-bats during the 2016 season, and impressed Cubs fans. Everyone knew he had power, but strikeouts plagued the young infielder. He hit .273 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI’s in 2016. Javier also cut down on his strikeout rate, but still struck out 108 times during the season. His defense over-shadowed his strikeout rate, and earned him starts at second base in the playoffs. It worked out for the Cubs as Baez went on to win co-MVP of the NLCS, and made great defensive play after great defensive play to help the Cubs win the World Series.

So, hopefully now you see what the injury to Kyle Schwarber means for Dexter Fowler this offseason.

With Almora ready to take over center field, Baez forcing his way into the lineup, and Schwarber healthy again; there is no place for Fowler in 2017.

The Cubs are in a great place for 2017. They have 11 or 12 guys competing for eight positions on the field (other than pitcher). Baez has shown he can play at second base, but there is only one problem. Ben Zobrist was Chicago’s primary second baseman in 2016. Zobrist had a great year himself and won the World Series MVP while starting in left field. Now that Schwarber is back, Zobrist will have to go back to second, and Baez will have to go back to the bench.

If the Cubs bring back Fowler, Almora will be sent to AAA Iowa. If Fowler leaves, it will either be Jason Heyward or Almora in center. Heyward played right field for the Cubs in 2016, but can play center as well. If that happens, we could see Zobrist or Almora in right.

There are so many options for the Cubs in 2017 that it will make your head spin just to think about it. Lets break it down and try to make it easier to understand.

Cubs outfield with Dexter Fowler:

Left field – Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist

Right field – Jason Heyward

Center field – Dexter Fowler

Cubs outfield without Dexter Fowler:

Left field – Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist

Right field – Albert Almora, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward

Center field – Jason Heyward, Albert Almora

As you can see, right field will be a revolving door just like left field was in 2016.

One name absent from those lists is Jorge Soler. With his struggles at the plate, and a crowded outfield, there will be no room for Soler. The Cubs will likely trade Soler for a young pitcher that they can develop.

It’s crazy to think that the Cubs would let a player like Fowler go. He was an All-Star in 2016, but Jason Heyward was a Gold Glover and can be trusted in center while Almora has earned at-bats. Even if Almora struggles or Joe Maddon decides not to play him, Ben Zobrist can slide into an outfield position and Baez can take over second base.

Fowler will cost the Cubs a nice chunk of money if they decide to bring him back in 2017. They can afford to save that money and use their wealth of young talent that is brewing throughout their system. Perhaps the Cubs use the money they save on Fowler to lock up another player or to bring in a veteran that will make their squad even better.

I never thought I would be saying this, but the Cubs need to let Fowler walk.