The Cubs and GM Jed Hoyer have been looking for “that guy,” that left-handed bat to hit at the top of their lineup, for what seems like forever.
Today they got that guy.
His name is Dexter Fowler and he brings with him a career on base percentage of .366.
That guy also happens to be another veteran that can help insulate the young kids who will comprise a majority of the Cubs lineup. Fowler, along with catcher Miguel Montero, will finally add some much-needed veteran presence for the up-and-coming prospects.
Fowler will also add some flexibility for new skipper Joe Maddon, a mad scientist of sorts when it comes to his roster. Fowler can now give Maddon the option of having 4-5 left-handed bats in his lineup on any given day.
“Our biggest needs were left-handed hitters and guys that get on base. Fowler fits that role for us,” Hoyer told ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. “He controls the strike zone really well. It gives us much needed depth in center field and in the outfield. We felt we were a little unbalanced in our depth in the outfield as opposed to the infield. Hopefully we get a much more grinding offense going forward.”
The Cubs had been talking with the Astros about Fowler since December, according to Hoyer. Here at Cubs Insider, we had been mentioning the centerfielder as far back as last October when speculating on players who could fill those needs.
For the most part, this now seemingly sets the lineup for Maddon, except for one more “minor” move that is likely to come by early May at the latest.
That move, of course, would involve the promotion of top prospect and third baseman Kris Bryant. The Cubs including last year’s hot corner man Luis Valbunea in the deal will have no effect on Bryant’s clock, however.
If anything, I think Valbuena and his $5 million was included here to offset the additional payroll required to take on Fowler and what is likely to be about $9 million for the last final year of his deal. Fowler asked for $10.8 million in arbitration and was recently offered $8.5 million by the Astros. The Cubs will now inherit that arbitration case.
Maybe most interestingly, this move allows Maddon to use Arismendy Alcantara as a super-sub of sorts, maybe a poor man’s Ben Zobrist, a move I enthusiastically endorse.
“AA” can now freely move around the infield and outfield in matchups for Maddon until he either proves he’s an everyday player or takes over a position via some form of attrition.
That position could likely end up being in the outfield if Chris Coghlan comes back down to earth, as I suspect. Yet, Fowler being essentially a rental allows the Cubs to take a one-year look-see.
The Cubs giving up assets for a potential short term move also tells you they plan on competing this year for realz.
As for the hot corner, Hoyer says even Javy Baez may see some time there until Bryant is ready. I’m not expecting to see too much of that though. I would expect many more Mike Olt memes on Twitter and maybe a little Tommy La Stella mixed in.
Finally, don’t go dreaming about the possibility of the Cubs adding one of the seemingly newly available Washington National starting pitchers, such as Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg, just yet.
Hoyer says the Cubs will look “relatively similar” in camp, which my GM decoder ring translates as…”Not happening for now.”
That guy may have to wait for the summer or next offseason.