What they're saying about Dexter Fowler signing with Cubs over Orioles

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
What they're saying about the Orioles-Cubs Dexter Fowler situation, and what it means for all sides.

A day removed from the stunner that outfielder Dexter Fowler was joining the Chicago Cubs instead of the Orioles, the baseball world at large is trying to make sense of what happened, and Baltimore is trying to figure out where it leaves them.

Our own reaction and analysis at the Sun can be found here, but if you're looking to broaden your horizons, here's what they're saying about the mess that's become the Orioles-Cubs-Dexter Fowler love triangle.

- Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal pointed blame all around for the situation, though posed several questions as to how it could have gotten to this point from a media standpoint.

Rosenthal wrote: “Anyone who blames the Orioles’ failure to complete a deal with Dexter Fowler on his desire for an opt-out clause misses the point.

If the Orioles would not give Fowler an opt-out, then they had no agreement with him. And if they had no agreement with him, then why the heck did people in their organization tell certain members of the media that they did?

Was it to pressure Fowler’s agent, Casey Close, into accepting the team’s three-year offer? Was it to scare off other interested clubs? Was it simply a matter of miscommunication?

Whatever the reason, the Orioles’ latest messy free-agent episode directly benefited the Cubs, who stunned the baseball world Thursday by agreeing with Fowler to a one-year, $13 million deal with a mutual option.”

- ESPN’s Buster Olney looks at it more from Fowler’s perspective — the outfielder is setting himself up for a better payday next offseason by passing up the long-term money the Orioles offered. But he also goes into how the whole situation could have played out the way it did.

Olney wrote: “Whatever the source of the confusion, whether it was the Orioles or Fowler or Fowler’s camp, it was possible for the player’s agent, Casey Close, to correct the record. But the reports linking the Orioles and Fowler had the potential to work to the benefit of Close and his client, as a looming alternative in the ongoing discussions with the Cubs, and it wasn’t until after the Chicago deal was done that Close issued his statement of faux outrage. Agents always have the option of engaging more than one or two select media members in doing their work of representing clients, and almost all of them do. When there is misperception, an agent’s silence can effectively serve as eager complicity in the fallout for his client. There’s a time and place for more efficient use of energy than drumming up shrill postmortem conspiracy theories.”

- On HardballTalk.com, Bill Baer tried to break down some of the malice between the Orioles’ and Fowler’s agent Casey Close, too.

Baer wrote: “Does Close have a case? If we apply Hanlon’s Razor, which essentially advises to assume ignorance over malice, then it’s reasonable to see a situation in which there was some degree of miscommunication between whichever source(s) within the Orioles organization communicated with members of the media. And the media, doing what they’ve done since social media became a thing, tweeted the information. 99 times out of 100, the information beat writers get is accurate, as we’ve seen countless times in recent years. Mistakes do happen.”

- At ESPN, Eddie Matz called the whole ordeal a “gut punch for the Orioles.”

Matz wrote: “Regardless of the reason, it's an absolute gut punch for the Orioles, a team that hasn't had a legit leadoff hitter since Brian Roberts in 2009. Last season, Buck Showalter used seven leadoff hitters, not to mention 10 right fielders. Fowler was supposed to be the answer to both problems -- the last piece of the puzzle for an Orioles lineup that, with him, was looking like one of most complete in the American League. Without Fowler, the O's must now figure out how to fill the hole in right field and at the top of the order.”

- At Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz., Jesse Rogers of ESPN wrote that most of the players thought the “surprise” they were being gathered for was the appearance of a zoo animal. Really.

Rogers wrote: “ ‘I sent him a text yesterday, and he big leagued me on it,’ [Cubs first baseman Anthony] Rizzo stated. ‘Ran into Theo [Epstein] yesterday, and he said, ‘Hey, I got a surprise for you guys.’ But when someone says they have a surprise, you think elephant, giraffe, you don’t know. That was the last thing on my mind.’ ”

- At Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan says the move hurts the Orioles, but its wider implications are with the improvements the Cubs made.

Sullivan wrote: “For the Orioles, it’s a bad look, and it’s frustrating, because now they have to keep poking around to fill a hole they thought they’d fill. It’s probably somewhat bad for morale, and now you can likely expect the Orioles to get in contact with the Reds about Jay Bruce. It’s not the worst fallback in the world. Yet this is all really about the Cubs. The Cubs get to keep Fowler, if only for a year. It reduces the uncertainty for what’s pretty clearly a World Series favorite.”

- Locally, Glenn Clark wrote on PressBox that the whole thing had a familiar feeling for longtime Orioles fans.

Clark wrote: "There are an awful lot of you who are downright furious at either Fowler or the Chicago Cubs for the 23rd-hour maneuvering that delivered the outfielder back to the Windy City instead of right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. You can't count me among your lot.

That's because after the initial shock of the news wore off, I was quickly left to shake my head and say, 'Actually, that's about right.' That's because Baltimore Orioles fans are a living, breathing representation of the Internet's 'This is why we can't have nice things' meme. Fowler left the Orioles at the altar Feb. 25 with no desirable right fielder or leadoff hitter option because … of course, he did."

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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