By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist

(CBS) Dexter Fowler’s agent had been negotiating with the White Sox right up to the time the news broke that he had agreed to a multi-year deal with the Orioles earlier this week. The White Sox had made a “firm, serious offer” to the center fielder, but he stuck to financial demands that Baltimore ultimately met, sources told 670 The Score.

If Fowler’s indignant agent, Casey Close, is to be believed, that agreement never existed in any way, with his request for an opt-out after one year causing talks to break off.  The Cubs then acted quickly to bring Fowler back for considerably less than the qualifying offer they made to him earlier, signing him to a one-year, $8-million deal that includes a 2017 mutual option.

So where were the White Sox? It remains unclear how a team involved with Fowler for some time could end up entirely out of the loop at the end.

One possibility is that Fowler simply changed his mind and wanted to be a Cub so much that he threw in the opt-out request late in the process, betting that the Orioles would back away instead of forfeiting a draft pick for just one year of his services. At that point, nothing would be able to keep a player from signing where he wanted to sign.

I also wonder how active the White Sox were in trying to bid for Chris Coghlan, the player moved by the Cubs to make room for Fowler once they knew they had him. All it took from Oakland was Triple-A pitcher Aaron Brooks, so I can’t imagine the White Sox couldn’t have put together something competitive.

Coghlan’s a good player, compiling 3.3 fWAR last year and 2.4 the season before. Compare just that with the entirely awful career of Avisail Garcia, who has a total of -1.9 fWAR since 2012 and has yet to finish a single season above water. Fangraphs calls Garcia baseball’s “biggest bust since Domonic Brown,” noting, “He’s capable of making seriously loud contact, it just occurs much too rarely. Plate discipline problems ensure that will continue to be the case. He looks like another bust.”

Two outfielders were acquired Thursday that would have made the White Sox a much better team by squeezing Garcia out of the everyday lineup. Unfortunately for them, one went to the Athletics and the other back to the Cubs.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Boers and Bernstein Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.