Some of the confetti from the Cubs’ World Series rally is probably still hanging around Grant Park, yet it’s time to start thinking about the 2017 team.
Dexter Fowler has been a key component of the Cubs’ two postseason teams in 2015 and 2016. Many of us would like to see him stick around.
The Cubs have given him qualifying offer (worth $17.2 million for 2017), per Jon Heyman:
While Fowler’s love for the Cubs is well documented, the 30-year-old is not expected to accept the offer — he will have a week to make the decision.
Many around baseball believe Fowler could receive a four-year deal this time around after signing a one-year, $13 million deal with the Cubs last offseason.
I certainly agree with Heyman that Fowler will turn the offer down. He could well receive a four-year offer. Personally, I hope the Cubs explore doing this. As noted, Fowler is 30 (he turns 31 in March) and I think he could be a productive player for most of the next four years.
He meant a lot to the team when he was at the top of the lineup; they had their worst stretch of the year (late June-early July) when he was on the disabled list and overall were 80-38 when he was in the starting lineup, just 23-20 when he wasn’t. Overall in Fowler’s two years, the Cubs were 171-96 (.640) when he started, 29-27 (.518) when he didn’t. (Note: this is not suggesting the Cubs will revert to being a .500 team if they don’t keep Fowler, only that his presence in the starting lineup seems to mean something.)
With the removal of Jason Hammel’s deal from the payroll and Edwin Jackson’s contract finally off the books, as well as Miguel Montero’s deal ending after 2017, the Cubs could afford to do this.
They could choose to go another way, of course. I hope they keep Dex.
Here are the other Cubs who are free agents going into 2017.
Trevor Cahill: he made $4.25 million in 2016, and was mostly effective in relief and the one start he made. Depending on the cost he could be useful to keep around.
Chris Coghlan: he made $4.8 million in 2016, and after he returned to the Cubs he was essentially the same player he was before he left — his time in Oakland an aberration. I’d think he’s probably gone, though.
Aroldis Chapman: he made $11.325 million on an agreement with the Yankees before an arb hearing. While his performance (up to the last two games of the World Series) was exactly what the Cubs hoped they’d get, I think he’ll be too expensive to keep and the Cubs do have other options at closer.
Joe Smith: he made $5.25 million in the last year of a three-year deal signed with the Angels before 2014. He was bad when he first came to the Cubs, went on the DL, then was better after. Could be a useful part of the 2017 bullpen, but might be too expensive.
Travis Wood: he made $6.17 million in a deal signed to avoid an arb hearing before the 2016 season. Useful in his role, I suspect he goes elsewhere, as there are a number of teams that would likely use him as a starter.
I’ve been told that Munenori Kawasaki is a free agent, though his baseball-reference page says he’s not eligible for free agency for three more years.
Which of these players would you keep around?