Update 12:47 pm: Dexter Fowler had an agreement in place with the Orioles, but he has backed down from that, and will instead re-sign with the Cubs according to Mark Gonzales. The deal has an $8 million base salary for 2016, with a $9 million option and $5 million buyout for 2017. Since the Cubs gave Fowler the qualifying offer in the first place, re-signing him will not cost them a pick in the upcoming draft.
The Cubs bring Fowler back shortly after trading Chris Coghlan to the Athletics, giving them an outfield, presumably, of Kyle Schwarber, Fowler, and Jason Heyward from left to right. What this means for Jorge Soler, the right fielder prior to Fowler's signing is unknown. It's obvious Fowler signed with the Cubs to start, though, given Baltimore had agreed to a three-year, $35 million deal with him, and the Cubs much less.
Now the Orioles won't lose their second selection in the 2016 draft, but they also still need to find an outfielder for right field. This is the second agreed-upon deal to fall through for the O's this week. Yovani Gallardo had originally agreed to a three-year deal before concerns about his shoulder during his physical caused the two sides to re-negotiate. While Baltimore was able to sign Gallardo to a two-year deal with an option for a third, with Fowler, there was no such chance to reshape the agreement.
Fowler's agent Casey Close issued a statement regarding the erroneous reports of Fowler to the Orioles:
"In my 25 years in this business, never before have I witnessed such irresponsible behavior on so many fronts. Both the Orioles front office and members of the media were so busy recklessly spreading rumors that they forgot or simply chose not to concern themselves with the truth. The Orioles' willful disregard of collectively bargained rules governing free agency and the media's eager complicity in helping the Orioles violate those rules are reprehensible. Dexter Fowler never reached agreement with the Orioles and did not come close to signing with the club; any suggestion otherwise is a continuation of an already disturbing trend."
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Spring training may have already started, but there are still significant additions to be made. Namely, free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler has found a new home for 2016, agreeing to a reported three-year, $35 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles, per Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports.
Starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo signed a two-year, $22 million contract with a club option for 2018. Because both Gallardo and Fowler declined qualifying offers in November, both were burdened with a draft pick.
The Orioles forfeited their first-round pick for signing Gallardo, and for Fowler would have forfeited what would have been their compensation pick for losing Wei-Yin Chen to the Marlins, in between the first and second round.
The switch-hitting Fowler hit .250/.346/.411 with 29 doubles, 17 home runs and eight triples in 156 games with the Chicago Cubs, patrolling center field for the 97-win NLCS runner-ups. Fowler, who turns 30 in March, stole 20 bases last year and walked a career-best 84 times.
Fowler hit .278/.316/.500 with two home runs and two doubles in nine postseason games with Chicago in 2015.
In his seven full seasons, Fowler has averaged 68 walks per season, and his career .363 on-base percentage should help an Orioles team that ranked 24th among 30 MLB teams with a .307 OBP in 2015.
Fowler was ranked as the 30th-best free agent this offseason by Grant Brisbee of SB Nation back in October.
The Orioles would have been Fowler's fourth team in the last four years.