I'm especially skeptical because the source appears to be Bruce Levine of 670 The Score. The Score isn't exactly the place I go to get intelligent baseball talk, but that's a blog for another day.
Just for grins, let's discuss the possibility of Fowler landing on either side of Chicago. I think it makes a lot of sense for him to go back to the Cubs, for whom he hit .250/.346/.411 with 17 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 156 games last year. In contrast, I don't think Fowler is the right guy for the Sox, but more on that in a minute.
First, let's look at why Fowler is a good fit for the Cubs: Well, he was their center fielder last year when they won 97 games, and they haven't replaced him with anybody else. I know what you're thinking. Didn't the Cubs sign outfielder Jason Heyward to a eight-year mega-deal worth $23 million a year?
Yes, yes, they did.
But let's think logically about Heyward's skill set. What is it that he does well that makes him worth all those millions? He's the best defensive right fielder in baseball, right? He's got three Gold Gloves in the past four years that prove that.
That being the case, why would the Cubs pay Heyward, the best defensive right fielder in baseball, $23 million to be an average or slightly above-average center fielder? Wouldn't it make much more sense to re-sign Fowler to play center field, put Heyward in right field where he belongs and trade Jorge Soler to help solidify a top-heavy pitching staff?
Yes, I think that makes a lot of sense. And unlike other teams, the Cubs wouldn't have to surrender draft pick compensation to sign Fowler. You better believe that qualifying offer has contributed to a slow market for Fowler. It's moot if he goes back to the Cubs.
As for the White Sox, one of the things that's perplexing about this report is that it calls for the Sox to sign Fowler to play center field and move Adam Eaton to right field. Huh?
I feel like Fowler would be redundant with Eaton on the Sox roster. Let's look at some numbers:
Eaton: .287/.361/.431, 14 HRs, 18 stolen bases
Fowler: .250/.346/.411, 17 HRs, 20 stolen bases
Pretty similar players, right? The Sox already have Eaton, a center fielder with some pop and some speed who can bat leadoff and get on base. Why give up a draft pick to sign Fowler, when he essentially provides the same thing?
What the Sox really need is a corner outfielder who can hit the ball over the fence. Incumbent corner outfielders Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia combined for only 25 home runs last season. Fowler doesn't offer a big upgrade over that, as the 17 homers he hit last year represent a career high. His career norm is 11 home runs per 162 games, which is less than what Cabrera and Garcia hit last year.
Further, there's no evidence that Fowler offers a defensive upgrade over Eaton. Let's take a look at Fowler's defensive WAR over the past five years:
Five straight years of negative defensive WAR.
Eaton's defense is a little harder to judge, based on the two years he's been a full-time player with the Sox:
Eaton was a Gold Glove finalist two years ago, then slipped defensively for unknown reasons last year. I need to see what he does this year to make a more firm judgment on what kind of defensive player he'll be over the long haul, but Fowler has a more established track record of being mediocre (at best) in center field. The Eaton we saw in 2014 is clearly superior to Fowler defensively, so I wouldn't be signing Fowler in order to move Eaton to right field.
It just doesn't make a lot of sense for the Sox to bid too high, or even bid at all, on Fowler.