Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler recently passed through revocable trade waivers unclaimed, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Nightengale also notes that the Cubs have yet to put struggling shortstop-turned-second-baseman Starlin Castro through waivers.
Fowler, 29, is in his first season with the Cubs after coming over from Houston in an offseason trade that sent Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily to the Astros. That Fowler would clear waivers is at least somewhat of a surprise. He’s hitting .245/.341/.402 with a dozen homers and 17 steals, and a number of teams looking for outfield help could benefit from the addition of the switch-hitter. Of course, some clubs may simply have neglected to place a claim, expecting that the contending Cubs wouldn’t be overly anxious to trade a player that has appeared in 113 games for the team and been worth about two wins this season.
The Cubs can now freely explore trades for Fowler, who is earning $9.5MM in 2015 and owed about $2.49MM of that sum through season’s end. Moving Fowler, however, could create a notable hole in the Cubs’ lineup, as Arismendy Alcantara is struggling in the minors this season, and Matt Szczur hasn’t hit to this point in the Majors. Chris Coghlan could theoretically shift to center field, but he hasn’t played there since 2013 and is not a good defender at the position. Then again, Fowler himself has traditionally graded out as a poor center fielder. He’s drawn average marks in Ultimate Zone Rating in 2015, at least, but some may still consider him to be a better fit for a corner spot.
Fowler joins a growing list of players that have cleared waivers, but he strikes me as a less likely trade candidate than the majority of other names to have cleared. Teams routinely place a significant portion of their roster on waivers — if not everyone on their roster — so news that Fowler has been place upon and cleared waivers doesn’t indicate that Chicago will actively seek to trade him.