Ian Stewart Rumors

Central Notes: Reds, Chicago, Brewers, Pirates, Twins

Here are the latest news and notes from the NL and AL Central divisions:


National League Non-Tenders

Here are today’s National League non-tenders. All decisions must be in by 11pm CT tonight. Be sure to track all tender decisions using MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker. Related resources include our list of non-tender candidates, our projected arbitration salaries and our arbitration eligibles series.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Central Links: Cubs, Chapman, Madson, Asdrubal

Some late-night reading surrounding baseball's two Central divisions…



Cubs Notes: Jackson, Valbuena, Stewart

Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th home run of the season last night, reaching the threshold for the sixth time in his career and for the first time since 2007. The 36-year-old now has a .261/.317/.499 batting line in 568 plate appearances this year. He'll earn $18MM per season through 2014 on a contract that no longer seems as unmovable as it once did. Here are some Cubs-related notes from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune

  • The idea of spending $150MM-plus on an impact player such as Josh Hamilton isn’t part of the Cubs’ plan, Sullivan reports. He notes that David DeJesus’ $10MM contract and Paul Maholm’s $4.75MM contract were the largest deals the Cubs signed a year ago.
  • However, the team expects to be able to spend. "Right now it's kind of hard to say,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You just don't know who will be available. But yeah, we'll spend money somewhere."
  • The Cubs need multiple starters, multiple relievers a center fielder, and a third baseman in Sullivan’s estimation. It appears that the Cubs will give Brett Jackson another look in center field despite his poor contact rate.
  • Luis Valbuena will be tendered a contract, but Ian Stewart is expected to be non-tendered, Sullivan writes. "Valbuena is going to be part of the organization, and he does one heck of a job himself," Sveum said. MLBTR's Steve Adams discussed Stewart as a non-tender candidate last month.
  • Josh Vitters appears to be a long shot at third base, according to Sullivan.

Non-Tender Candidate: Ian Stewart

It's been a little more than nine years since Ian Stewart was selected by the Rockies with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft. Selected out of high school, Stewart would spend the next five years ranking between No. 4 and No. 57 on Baseball America's list of Top 100 prospects.

Stewart's production at Triple-A makes it easy to see why he was so highly regarded. In 226 games he's amassed a .291/.373/.540 batting line and homered roughly once every twenty times he's stepped to the plate. The Major Leagues, however, have been another story entirely.

The Rockies gave Stewart more than 1,400 plate appearances to cement himself as a regular, and played him at both third base and second base along the way. The minor league success never fully carried over, as Stewart batted .236/.323/.428 for the Rockies before being traded to the Cubs along with Casey Weathers in exchange for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu last winter.

Things got worse for Stewart in Chicago, where he batted just .201/.292/.335 in 202 plate appearances before a left wrist injury cut his season short. Stewart earned $2.2375MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility this past offseason. Despite the injury and poor performance, he accumulated more than 200 plate appearances on the season, leading MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to project a slight raise to $2.3MM.

Stewart will turn 28 during the first week of the 2013 season, and his past 338 plate appearances have resulted in a paltry OPS+ of 50. The Cubs have also recalled Josh Vitters, signaling that they're likely ready to explore alternatives to the failed Stewart experiment. It appears very possible that he will reach free agency sooner than he ever anticpated.

In the event that he's non-tendered, Stewart's status as a once elite prospect and his career ISO of .185 at the Major League level could lead an offensively starved team to look at him as a buy-low candidate. It may be a long shot, but it wouldn't be the first time a general manager caught lightning in a bottle, and the signing would come with minimal risk attached.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here.  Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing.  Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints.  Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:

(more…)


Cubs Acquire Ian Stewart In Four-Player Trade

The Cubs have acquired Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers from the Rockies in exchange for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

Each team acquires a 26-year-old former first round pick coming off a disappointing season. Stewart, a non-tender candidate, has long been the subject of trade rumors and hit .156/.243/.221 in limited action in 2011. Colvin, who isn't yet arbitration eligible, hit .150/.204/.306 in 222 plate appearances.

LeMahieu, 23, has a career .753 OPS in the minors and saw his first big league action for the Cubs in 2011. He'll compete for time at second and third base, according to Renck (on Twitter). Weathers, 26, was also a first-round pick, but has yet to pitch above Double-A, where he posted a 5.32 ERA in 45 2/3 innings this year. The right-hander has excellent stuff (career 11.3 K/9), but hasn't been able to control it (7.1 BB/9).

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported yesterday that the two teams were discussing a deal involving Stewart and Colvin.


Rockies Acquire Kevin Slowey

THURSDAY: The Twins acquired righty Daniel Turpen from the Rockies to complete the Slowey deal, they announced today.  Turpen, 25, posted a 4.83 ERA in Double-A this year.  He was taken by the Yankees from the Red Sox in last year's Rule 5 draft, then returned to Boston and later traded to Colorado.

TUESDAY: The Rockies agreed to acquire starter Kevin Slowey from the Twins for a player to be named later, reports MLB.com's Thomas Harding.  The Twins have since announced the trade.

Slowey

Slowey, 27, was widely regarded as a non-tender candidate had he remained with the Twins until next week's deadline.  He projects to earn $2.7MM through arbitration in 2012, and is under team control through 2013.  One of the game's most extreme flyball pitchers, Slowey (pictured) doesn't seem a great fit for Coors Field.  The other concern is that Slowey hasn't compiled big innings totals in the Majors.  Still, he limits free passes as well as anyone and could be a useful back-end rotation addition for Colorado.  The Rockies also added starter Tyler Chatwood last week in a trade with the Angels.

The Rockies may have other irons in the fire, as Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post reported earlier that they've discussed a deal with the Reds involving closer Huston Street for starter Edinson Volquez.  It's unclear whether those talks are still active given the Slowey acquisition.  Renck also wrote that the Rockies have interest in trading for the Phillies' Placido Polanco or the Braves' Martin Prado, and asked the Cubs about D.J. LeMahieu and Scott Maine in Ian Stewart talks that have since lost momentum.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


NL West Notes: Rockies, Stewart, Dodgers

Earlier today we saw a rare trade between division rivals when the Rockies sent Huston Street to the Padres for a player to be named later and cash. Let's take a look at some other news and rumors from the NL West…


Cubs, Rockies Still Discussing Ian Stewart

1:37pm: The Rockies and Cubs are discussing Stewart for Colvin, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

12:44pm: The Cubs and Rockies have continued to discuss third baseman Ian Stewart over the last week, reports ESPNChicago's Bruce Levine.  Cubs players Blake DeWitt, DJ LeMahieu, and Tyler Colvin have been discussed.

The Cubs are also looking at the Padres' Chase Headley, notes Levine.