Cubs Acquire Dexter Fowler
Nice deal for both sides. The Astros deal away from depth to get an underrated infielder in Valbuena — who reminds me of a younger, more disciplined version of Juan Uribe — and a decent back-end / fill-in starter in Straily. The Cubs fill the gaping hole in center field and at leadoff by obtaining Fowler, who will give Chicago some stability and veteran leadership in a very young outfield.
Fowler has been on the cusp of stardom for the past several years, a toolsy, athletic player who could have a major impact on the Cubs offense in 2015 and beyond. He likely won’t hit for the double-digit homerun power that he did in Colorado, but Fowler’s ability to get on base has improved in nearly every season in MLB — last year, he reached base at a .375 clip. Despite good speed, he hasn’t stolen many bases, but that may be more due to the conservative offensive philosophies of the teams for which he’s played. It will be interesting to see if manager Joe Maddon sets him loose in Chicago — Maddon did, after all, allow Carl Crawford to run wild in his years in Tampa Bay.
I don’t know that the Cubs will be postseason contenders in 2015, but they’re certainly moving that way with the moves they’ve made this winter. If nothing else, they’ll be a team to watch.