The 29-year-old Fowler quietly had a strong season for the Cubs with 17 homers and 84 walks. ESPN's Keith Law ranked Fowler eighth among his top 50 free agents at the start of the offseason, but the slow-developing market for Cespedes and Justin Upton stalled his job search as well.
MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince assessed the best remaining fits for Fowler, listing the White Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Rangers and Cubs as plausible options. Castrovince says the White Sox would be in the best position since their first-round draft pick (10th overall) is protected and signing Fowler would only cost them the sandwich pick they earned when the Giants signed Jeff Samardzija. Fowler would be a defensive upgrade in center over Adam Eaton, who could be moved to a corner spot.
An intriguing option is the Angels, who were in the hunt for Cespedes, but balked at the high price tag. The Angels desperately need another bat in the lineup and Fowler could make the transition to left field with Mike Trout entrenched in center.
Money remains an issue, but the Angels could step up their efforts to trade left-hander C.J. Wilson, who will make $20 million this season. Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register, however, suggests Wilson is more likely to remain with the Angels in 2016.
A wild card is the Nationals, who made a late run at Cespedes. But Fowler may not be enough of an upgrade for Washington to scrap its plan of using the recently acquired Ben Revere in center field.
Here are a few other rumors making the rounds on Tuesday:
Yovani Gallardo: The Orioles, Astros and Rockies are among the teams that appear unwilling to sign the free agent right-hander because of draft pick compensation, reports Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. Rosenthal suggests the Rockies are the most realistic option of the three since their first-round pick (fourth overall) is protected and Gallardo is one of the rare free-agent pitchers willing to pitch at Coors Field. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets the Rockies are not being aggressive on Gallardo at this point.
Tim Lincecum: The Padres and Marlins are among the clubs interested in the free-agent right-hander who is coming off hip surgery, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Lincecum is expected host a showcase for interested teams next month in Arizona. Giants general manager Bobby Evans has remained in contact with Lincecum's agent, but a return to San Francisco will not happen if another team offers Lincecum a rotation spot, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Giants' only competition at this point is in the bullpen.
Tyler Clippard: The Mets would like to retain Clippard, but he may be out of their price range, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. GM Sandy Alderson may have already used his free agent bullpen dollars on Antonio Bastardo, who agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal last week.
Juan Uribe: Among the contributors to the Mets' late-season surge was Uribe, who hit six homers and drove in 20 runs in 44 games after coming over from Atlanta. The 36-year-old free agent makes sense as a third base option for the Indians and Angels, suggests Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Bronson Arroyo: The 38-year-old right-hander is expected to make a decision this week, tweets Chris Cotillo. The Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates and Padres have been linked to Arroyo, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014 and has not pitched in the majors since that season. A deal with Washington would reunite Arroyo with Nats manager Dusty Baker, his former skipper in Cincinnati.