To no surprise, Dexter Fowler will not exercise his player option with the Chicago Cubs in 2017. After what was an interesting and controversial free agent period, Fowler signed a two-year deal with the Cubs during Spring Training last season. Both sides knew that if Fowler were injured during the season, the Cubs wouldn't exercise the option. Fowler was at the point signing with the Baltimore Orioles last winter but decided to sign with the Cubs. Fowler produced several significant moments in the offseason, in which one of them was a leadoff home run in Game 7.
Could Chicago hang on to him next year after Fowler had a better 2016 campaign, or will Fowler test the free agent market? I believe that Fowler will test the market and sign with a new team.
The team that's an early favorite to land Fowler is the Seattle Mariners. Jerry Dipoto wants the Mariners to have speed and defense, so you have to assume that Dipoto is thinking about taking Nelson Cruz out of the outfield and putting him in a DH role. For example, Cruz only played 48 games in the outfield last season. Assuming Cruz is a DH next season, the Mariners have plenty of options for the outfield in Seth Smith and Ben Game. An upgrade is needed if the Mariners want to contend for a playoff spot. Seattle almost made the postseason last year, and it would've been their first postseason since the infamous 116 win season they had in 2001.
Fowler would be a great fit with this current Seattle lineup. Not only does he upgrade the outfield, but also the leadoff spot. With players such as Robinson Cano, Cruz, and Kyle Seager, the Mariners would be contenders again in 2017. Fowler becomes that offensive and defensive weapon that could give the Mariners a boost in the American League West.