Theo Epstein on Dexter Fowler’s surprise with Cubs: “That’s Godfather sh–. Nothing will top that.”

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Dexter Fowler shocked everyone — including his Cubs teammates — when the previous report of his three-year, $35 million deal with the Orioles was negated and he finalized a contract with the Cubs on Thursday. It’s a one-year deal for $13 million with a mutual option for 2017. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman notes that Fowler had requested an opt-out clause in his contract with the Orioles and sought work elsewhere when they turned down the idea.

Fowler’s return to the Cubs was dramatic, as Gordon Wittenmyer reports for the Chicago Sun-Times. Manager Joe Maddon hinted that his players were about to have a “moment”, which didn’t give much away. Starter Jason Hammel said, “I thought for sure it was some circus animal or some weird magician.” It wasn’t a bad assumption, as Maddon has a reputation for bringing in some odd guests for his team.

Rather than a penguin or a python, members of the Cubs saw Fowler walked into the field with team president Theo Epstein. Catcher David Ross said he “didn’t know what to think” and wondered if Fowler had just come back to bid farewell.

The best reaction, though, was Epstein’s. Via CSN Chicago’s Kelly Crull:

Madison Bumgarner is reportedly asking for a nine-figure deal

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner is asking for a nine-figure deal.

Your first impression of that may be “what? how?” A lot of that, however, is probably bound up in your understandable feeling that Bumgarner is too old to get that kind of scratch. But then you remember that, oh wait, he’s somehow still only 30 years-old. Indeed, he’s only ten months older than Zack Wheeler, who just nabbed a five-year, $118 million deal from Philly.

Bumgarner, obviously, has much more mileage on the odometer than Wheeler does, and he’s not the ace he was a few years ago, but he’s coming off a fine year, having put up a solid 3.90 ERA and 203/43 K/BB ratio over 207.2 innings in 2019. He would be a fine addition to the top — or at last near the top — of a contender’s rotation.

The White Sox, Twins, Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Padres, and Yankees have all been mentioned among possible landing spots. Figure his market to heat up a good bit once Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg sign and some of those contenders start looking for fallback options.