Fowler signs…with the Cubs
SARASOTA, Fla. — Dexter Fowler pulled off quite the shocker on Thursday afternoon, signing a one-year deal with the Cubs on the day he was supposed to be in Florida getting ready to take his Orioles physical.
Word leaked out Tuesday night that the Orioles were finalizing a three-year, $33 million agreement with Fowler. O’s centerfielder Adam Jones said Wednesday that he had talked to Fowler and he was en route to Florida to join Baltimore’s star-studded lineup.
But that scenario never transpired as Fowler instead walked onto the Cubs’ field in Arizona with general manager Theo Epstein to announce he was staying with Chicago.
Fowler’s deal with Chicago will reportedly pay him $8 million and has a $9 million option for 2017, with a $5 million buyout if the option is declined.
“I don’t know where that came from — it didn’t come from our camp,” Fowler said of having an agreement in place with Baltimore. “It put me in a difficult situation. Theo, they made a good offer. You come back to what you know.”
Fowler’s camp wanted a shorter deal with an opt-out, which is something that Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has been hesitant to do. The organization was also wary of giving up its second Draft pick for what could’ve been just a one-year deal.
Fowler confirmed that he turned down a three-year offer elsewhere.
“My heart’s here,” he said. “I feel like the Cubs, they treated me with the utmost respect. With the offseason moves they made, you’ve got to go with what’s comfortable.”
Fowler was projected to play right field for the Orioles, who will now have some competition for that spot this spring among Nolan Reimold, Dariel Alvarez, Henry Urrutia, Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard, Jimmy Paredes and Mark Trumbo. The O’s will also keep their second pick in the Draft by not signing Fowler.
“He liked their offer I guess,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’d like to say I wasn’t [stunned]. I’m not.
“No I didn’t feel like it was [done]…[Fowler was] somebody we were talking to and, from what I was made aware of, it doesn’t surprise me.”