Dexter Fowler has been fantastic for the Cubs this season, and I hate to be the guy looking ahead to next year already, but should they try and bring him back? Before Fowler signed what will end up being a 1 year/$13 mil contract (after the buyout), assuming he doesn’t pick up his option, he was deep in talks with the Orioles on a 3 year/$35 mil deal with incentives that could make him up to $40 million. Then he changed his mind. I find it very hard to believe, however, that he would be willing to take a huge discount for a 2nd year in a row, especially since he will turn 31 before the season starts next year. With the very good numbers he is putting up this year, I’d say he is certainly in line to receive another offer right around the $40 million mark.
So, the Cubs have a choice to make: either roll with what they have in Soler, Heyward, Schwarber, and Almora, or pay up and re-sign Fowler. Now, Soler has been solid this season, when healthy, and is currently slashing .244/.336/.448 with 12 home runs in just 83 games. There are 2 major problems with Soler; he is injured a lot and he is a terrible defender. He can be fantastic at the plate, often hitting balls well over 100 mph, but is an absolute liability in the field.
Heyward is the supposed “super star” out of this group, but he has had an abysmal season with a stat line of just .230/.301/.325, and who knows how he will perform next year. As of late, he has turned it around some and is hitting .292 in his last 7 games, but will it last? At the very least, he is an excellent defender, which has kept him in the lineup consistently this season.
It is tough to know what is going to happen with Schwarber, as he tore his ACL in the first couple weeks of the season and will not return in 2016. We can only hope he will come back as the stud that he was late last year and into the playoffs, but only time will tell.
Almora has split time this season between AAA and the big leagues, and he has certainly impressed me in the field in his limited time in Chicago. He is known as a bit of a light hitter who doesn’t draw many walks, but he is certainly known as the center fielder of the future, and he certainly has the look defensively. The problem is, we don’t know if he is ready. This year he has played quite well, hitting .271/.291/.438 in just 39 games with the Cubs. He would be an excellent 4th outfielder next year, but who knows if he is ready to be an everyday guy. The only other options the Cubs have currently are Matt Szczur, who will never be more then a bench guy, and Chris Coghlan, who hasn’t even played well enough to be a bench guy this year.
This all leads me to think that the best option the Cubs will have at a good center fielder next year will be Dexter Fowler (.269/.382/.436), and Theo and co. may just have to pony up and pay the man. He has certainly earned it this year, especially when he was carrying the offense through the first month of the season. He is the best choice the Cubs have, and they need to bring him back for 2017.