The Houston Astros have announced that they have traded outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs. The trade is the Cubs' latest move to become competitors in the NL Central, arguably baseball's toughest division, after finishing 73-89 in 2014. In return for Fowler, the Cubs sent third baseman Luis Valbuena and pitcher Dan Straily to Houston.
Fowler spent his first five full major league seasons with the Colorado Rockies before being traded to the Astros in December 2013. Fowler has been known as a hard-hitting top-of-the order batter and his presence gives the Cubs a solid leadoff man. Furthermore, the trade reunites him with hitting coach John Mallee, who new Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought over from the Astros when he was hired. Fowler posted a .276 batting average under Mallee last year, his second-highest ever and a thirteen point improvement over his 2013 average.
In Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily, the Astros get much-needed depth at third base and in the bullpen as they, too, try to reform into competitors in the AL West. The Astros traded a top prospect third baseman in order to get Evan Gattis last week. Valbuena, a Cardinal killer, should have a great impact in the Astros lineup in 2015. On the other hand, Dan Straily, whom was acquired for Jeff Samardzija, will compete for a rotation spot in Houston after his sloppy 6.75 ERA last season. Dan has proven his potential though, after a 10-8 season in 2013.
Fowler is a great addition to the Cubs, as he adds another solid bat to their lineup and gives them some more outfield depth behind young slugger Jorge Soler. After trading CF Justin Ruggiano to the Mariners, the Cubs needed someone to pick up his production, and Dexter Fowler should do just that.
Along with Jorge Soler, Junior Lake, Ryan Sweeney, Chris Denorfia, and other OF'ers, Fowler will find himself competing for the center field job and will likely have it, come opening day 2015.
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