Houston has been shopping Dexter Fowler this offseason, and after exchanging arbitration figures with its center fielder, was looking to move him again. According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the Astros are close to completing a deal that would send Fowler to the Cubs. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that there will be major league prospects sent back to Houston.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronice was the first to report Dan Straily, a former Oakland starter, will be sent to Houston in the deal. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan also notes that the Astros will also receive Luis Valbuena.
Fowler, 28, was arbitration eligible for the final time and will become a free agent at the end of the 2015 season. He posted a .276/.375/.399 batting line in 116 games with the Astros in 2014, and added eight home runs and 35 RBIs. Fowler is seen as a valuable piece because of his speed, although he stole just 11 bases in 505 total plate appearances a season ago. He has proven to be a versatile and consistent outfielder, however he did miss over a month last summer because of a back injury.
Rosenthal notes that the Cubs have been checking in on available outfielders since the end of the Winter Meetings. Fowler's .366 career on-base percentage intrigued Chicago despite the fact that his 1.4 WAR in 2014 was his lowest in three seasons. Fowler reportedly asked for $10.8 million in arbitration, while the Astros offered $8.5 million.
While the Cubs got the outfield piece they sought, Straily, 26, could be a solid addition for Houston. He spent most of 2014 in Triple-A with the Athetics and Cubs, and has a 4.19 career ERA and 4.46 FIP. Chicago acquired Straily in the Jeff Samardzija deal with Oakland.
Valbuena, 29, agreed to a one-year, $4.2 million contract with the Cubs last week. He posted a .249/.341/.435 line in 149 games with Chicago in 2014 while adding 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. His 2.7 2014 WAR was the best of his career.
Fowler was drawing interest from a handful of teams, with Toronto seen as a potential suitor in December.