In the last couple hours all hell broke loose. My previous post regarding all the confusion as to the Chris Coghlan trade now makes sense as the Cubs have brought back Dexter Fowler on a one year deal with a mutual option for a second season.
The signing comes after a Fowler to Baltimore deal was supposedly sign, sealed, and delivered yesterday. NOT SO FAST. Chicago front office reportedly stayed in contact with Fowler’s agent throughout the whole process and now the man is reunited with his teammates in Mesa. Enjoy yourself for the next couple lines of text because more chaos ensues and of course there is confusion regarding playing time. So here goes…
Epstein stated that he is very content with the team as is and that no further trades with come about between now and Opening Day, meaning the Cubs are stuck with four starting outfielders: Dexter Fowler, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Jorge Soler. Your initial thought would be a trade of Soler is coming next but after Epsteins comments, obviously you can rule that one out.
So what about using Fowler as a very good 4th outfielder? The argument here is that you start the game with Schwarber, Heyward, and Soler across the outfield and use Fowler as a pinch hitter, runner, or defensive replacement mid to late in games, sliding Heyward to right and removing either Soler or Schearber and their defensive woes. That’s all good and well until you realize the Cubs just spent $8 million for a fourth outfielder.
Option number two would seem to use Soler and Schwarber as a natural platoon with Soler playing against lefties and Schwarbs against righties. That’s a whole lot of power either way and both players hit tremendously well against their counterpart and struggle a little against pitchers of their own handedness. Now comes the problem. Both of these guys are very, very young. Relegating either of them to platoon roles at such a young age can have a very significant impact on their progression as a young player.
The third and most likely scenario post Fowler signing would be the most likely of the three options and that is that Joe Maddon uses his wizardry of managing skills and finds a way for each player to get all their at-bats in over the course of the season and the Cubs execute the 4 outfielder problem perfectly.