Dexter Fowler brings a different look to 2015 Chicago Cubs
Last season ended with the Chicago Cubs mixing Chris Coghlan, Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler as the team’s three primary outfielders. This year, the team figures to have a different look with the offseason trade acquisition of veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler.
The former 14th-round pick of the Colorado Rockies was acquired in the trade that sent third baseman Luis Valbuena to the Houston Astros earlier this offseason, clearing the path for the ascent of top prospect Kris Bryant to Chicago this season.
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Last season with the Astros, Fowler batted .276/.375/.399 in 116 contests, adding eight home runs and 11 stolen bases, as well. He also added 21 doubles and four triples for Houston, spending the entire season in center field defensively.
Fowler, 28, is heading into a contract year – and his future in Chicago past this season remains unclear. He did speak on the possibility of signing a contract extension with the Cubs shortly after the trade in an interview with MLB Network Radio.
"I’m always open. I always keep an open mind and if it’s something work for both us, then, you know, that could happen. But I’ve got to keep things in perspective and play each and every day and let that stuff take care of itself.But before we even get to that point, we have to take care of business this year. Fowler will split time with Alcantara, who, despite his best efforts, struggled at the dish, batting just .205 and putting up a dismal .254 OBP in 70 games.While his speed will remain an enticing part of his game, the young utilityman will likely fill a more bench-oriented role in 2015, seeing time alongside Fowler in center field as well as at second base – where the future of Javier Baez is somewhat in question after a disappointing rookie campaign.On a team whose oldest projected starter is a mere 31 (Miguel Montero), Fowler brings a veteran presence to the clubhouse – something that cannot be stressed enough with the array of young talent arriving in Chicago of late. He knows what it’s like to play for a contender (he reached the NLDS with Colorado in 2009), as well as a rebuilding team (see the 2014 Astros) – and the combination should mesh well with this year’s Cubs team.A career .271 hitter, Fowler can bring something similar to Coghlan in a steady presence in a lineup that was ravaged by the ups-and-downs of young players in 2014. Guiding the youngsters through a long campaign, he may emerge as one of the most critical pieces to the team’s success – even on days when he is not on the field.Next: Cubs bullpen ranked seventh in preseason poll I’m always open. I always keep an open mind and if it’s something work for both us, then, you know, that could happen. But I’ve got to keep things in perspective and play each and every day and let that stuff take care of itself."