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Dexter Fowler not coming to Orioles, agrees to one-year deal with Cubs

In a strange turn of events, Dexter Fowler heads back to the Cubs rather than to the Orioles.

The spring training soap opera of the Baltimore Orioles continues.

Outfielder Dexter Fowler, who had reached an agreement with the Orioles on a three-year, $33 million contract, has signed a one-year deal to remain with the Chicago Cubs, the Cubs announced Thursday.

Fowler’s deal with the Cubs will guarantee him $13 million and could be worth a total of $17 million if both sides pick up a mutual option for 2017, according to an ESPN report. Fowler will make $8 million this season and has a $5 million buyout if he does not receive the second-year option.  

So the Orioles will not acquire Fowler, who was set to be a key addition to the team’s lineup – projecting to be the leadoff hitter and the club’s starting right fielder this year.

Fowler was at Cubs camp Thursday and told reporters that his heart told him to remain in Chicago and confirmed he declined a three-year offer from another team. A report from Chicago radio station WSCR AM reported Fowler’s deal with the Orioles broke down when Baltimore didn’t grant Fowler’s request for an opt-out clause.

In the days leading up to the Orioles’ agreement with Fowler, the sense was that he actually preferred a shorter deal that would allow him to retest the free-agent market sooner.

But he was unlikely to get that from any other team but his previous one, the Cubs, because he was tied to draft-pick compensation after declining a $15.8 million qualifying offer. Other teams shied away from Fowler because they didn’t want to give up their highest unprotected pick.

The Orioles would have given up their second pick (28th overall) in next year’s draft to sign Fowler. The team already forfeited their first-round pick (14th overall) to sign Yovani Gallardo.

Fowler’s apparent defection comes on the heels of the Orioles restructuring Gallardo’s three-year, $35 million deal because of a concern with the pitcher’s shoulder raised during his physical exam.

The sides were able to quickly agree on a restructured two-year, $22 million deal and Gallardo participated in his first workout Thursday morning.

But the Orioles’ failed attempt to sign Fowler now leaves them with an open competition for the starting right field position, with Nolan Reimold, Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia competing for the spot. First basemen Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis can also play there and designated hitter Jimmy Paredes has been doing work in the outfield.

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