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.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).