Dexter Fowler will decline the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer

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Outfielder Dexter Fowler will decline the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer and become a free agent, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Fowler declined his $9 million mutual option for the 2017 season on Sunday.

Though Fowler had a tough time as a free agent last offseason, he’s better suited in this free agent market as it’s weaker and he’s coming off of a better season as a World Series champion. During the regular season, Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances. He added five doubles and three homers in 17 postseason games, helping the Cubs defeat the Indians in the World Series.

Fowler reportedly signed with the Orioles on February 23, but the deal never came to fruition. According to Fowler, “[The Orioles] wanted me to pay them what they said the draft choice I was costing them was valued at. They wanted me to pay them for the pick.” As a result, Fowler signed with the Cubs two days later on a one-year, $13 million deal. The rest, as they say, is history.