White Sox badly need a solid center fielder for 2017 if they intend on contending. Could team explore signing veteran center fielder to stabilize outfield defense for next season?
The Chicago White Sox haven’t publicly defined its strategy for the upcoming offseason, but if they’re going to push for contention they will need a starting center fielder. Adam Eaton provided exceptional defense in right field this season, and the Sox should be weary of moving him back to center field.
If the Sox want to contend next season, they should certainly take a look at signing Dexter Fowler. Fowler, has played the past two seasons with the crosstown rival Cubs. The veteran center fielder has $9 million mutual option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout. With the Cubs having young outfielders in the mix, Fowler could become a free agent this offseason.
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This is where the Sox could come in and sign the veteran outfielder. The Sox were reportedly close to signing Fowler last offseason, but Fowler ultimately choose to return to the Cubs for a shot at winning the World Series. This season, Fowler owned a .276/.393/.447 slash line in 125 games for the Cubs.
The Sox certainly need a player with a high on-base percentage at the top of the order. Eaton’s OBP was .382 this season, and the Sox could most certainly have a potent offense with Fowler and Eaton at the top of the lineup. This would mean Tim Anderson would have to move down in the order, but that could ultimately help the young shortstop.
On defense, Fowler would provide an upgrade but not much. This season, Fowler had 1 defensive runs saved while playing in center field. This was actually his highest DRS since 2010 with the Rockies. Fowler had 2 DRS in 2010. Although Fowler isn’t the best defensive center fielder, the Sox won’t have much variety in choosing to sign a center fielder on the open market.
Fowler also has postseason experience with the Rockies and Cubs. This is needed for a Sox clubhouse that doesn’t have many players with postseason experience. The Sox need to sign solid players this offseason if they hope to contend. Although Fowler isn’t an elite player, he’s made the All-Star team and can get on base consistently. If the Sox want to contend next season, they should aggressively pursue Fowler. They won’t be the only team competing to sign him.