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Cubs, White Sox “appear to be the two teams with the most interest” in Dexter Fowler

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Dexter Fowler posted a cool .757 OPS with 17 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 156 games last season for the Cubs, but he got lost in the initial shuffle of big-name free agent outfielders earlier this winter and a market still hasn’t quite materialized for the 29-year-old center fielder here in late January.

That should soon start changing with Yoenis Cespedes now off the board, and Bruce Levine of 670 The Score hears that the two Chicago teams will likely be the primary suitors …

Both Chicago teams are monitoring the Fowler’s free-agent market daily, according to sources.

“The Cubs are still the most likely landing spot for Fowler,” one baseball executive whose club has also followed the Fowler free-agent process said. “He should have taken the Cubs’ qualifying offer and moved into the free agent class of 2017.”

Fowler did not accept that one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Northsiders back in early November and so his free agency became tied to draft pick compensation. That has really been the biggest thing holding him back from landing with a new team.

Levine says the Cubs could trade Jorge Soler for pitching help to make room for Fowler, who would likely return to center field with newcomer Jason Heyward taking over in right and Kyle Schwarber handling left. On the south side of Chicago, center fielder Adam Eaton could make the switch to right field with disappointing youngster Avisail Garcia sliding into a sort of left-field platoon with Melky Cabrera.

The Cards dealt Stephen Piscotty to the A’s, in part, so he could be near his ailing mother

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Last night we wrote about the rumored deal between the Cardinals and the Athletics for Stephen Piscotty. The deal is now official, with Piscotty going to Oakland for minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

Something else emerged about the deal today: a big reason why St. Louis traded Piscotty to Oakland as opposed to another team was so that he could be near his mother, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last May. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

Here’s Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

This was certainly a baseball trade — Piscotty became expendable for the Cardinals after they acquired Marcell Ozuna yesterday — but it was one which could’ve been made with any team with a couple of red or white chip prospects. That Mozeliak considered Piscotty’s personal situation in making the deal with the A’s is a credit to him and his staff.

The 26-year-old Piscotty hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season. He has hit .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2+ major league seasons. He agreed to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension last spring.

As for the prospects in return: Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.