Stewart will make $2 million as a base salary, with another half a million dollars available via incentives. ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers confirmed the deal after flying with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer back from Nashville, and Stewart himself tweeted: ”Glad to be healthy and back with the Cubs. The support from the Cubs organization and the fans has been incredible. Thank you all so much.”
Personally, I like the deal. I think it’s a very low-risk move with some potential. Ian Stewart missed most of the season, taking only 200 at-bats, due to a wrist injury that has been bothering him since his days with the Colorado Rockies. Stewart played nice defense at the hot corner in 2012. If his wrist is truly and finally healed, as some are saying, what is there to lose by giving him a shot in 2013?
The third baseman free agent market has been drying up quickly. Take a look at MLB Trade Rumors’ free agent tracker. Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger are already off the board. Kevin Youkilis seems unlikely. Despite having the right kind of name, Scott Rolen is playing for the Cincinnati Reds or retiring. Other options like Casey McGehee or Mark Reynolds could still be explored.
The Cubs have plenty of money to spend. That’s all the Cubs are really losing here, as I see it. Stewart will cost them between $2 and $2.5 million. MLB Trade Rumors projected his arbitration salary as $2.3 million. He made $2.2375 million in 2012, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Thus, the deal isn’t atrocious in my eyes. I was nervous when the Cubs non-tendered him that they were just letting him go, and I’m glad they’ve brought him back to give him a shot.
Josh Vitters will start 2013 in Triple-A. The 3B market is sparse right now. And if Stewart is actually finally healed, losing Tyler Colvin will hurt less. I like this move and end Winter Meetings coverage satisfied.
This happened as I was writing this post. Too slow. Paul Sullivan tweeted the Stewart deal is not guaranteed and “if [Stewart is] released in spring training, Cubs off hook.”
So boom. Deal looks even better now.