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


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.

Jason Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand

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Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.