Ian Stewart Rumors
The Angels have signed third baseman Ian Stewart to a minor league deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (via Twitter). The deal contains an invitation to the club's Major League Spring Training camp. Stewart is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
Stewart was taken by the Rockies as the 10th overall pick of the 2003 draft and was listed as no less than the 57th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America every season from 2004-08, topping out as #4 before the 2005 season. While Stewart didn't quite live up to his lofty pedigree, he still put up a decent .246/.334/.454 slash line and 53 homers over 1236 PA with Colorado from 2008 to 2010.
A wrist injury hurt his production, however, and the injury followed him to Chicago after Stewart was dealt to the Cubs following the 2011 season. That stint ended badly after Stewart criticized the organization and was subsequently released, leading him to finish out 2013 on a minor league deal with the Dodgers.
Stewart is stll only 28 and could give the Angels some extra pop off the bench if he regains his form. Grant Green projects as the Halos' top backup infielder with Andrew Romine, Luis Jimenez and the newly-signed John McDonald also in the mix.
The Dodgers have signed third baseman Ian Stewart, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Since being jettisoned by the Cubs, Stewart was most recently rumored to be in discussions with the Yankees, who USA Today's Bob Nightengale says (Twitter link) were finalists for Stewart along with the Marlins and Rockies. While contract details have not yet been reported, all signs point to the deal being a minor league contract.
Stewart never made it to the bigs this season, as he was outrighted to Chicago's highest minor league affiliate after struggling during an early-season rehab stint. His cumulative line this season (all for Triple-A Iowa) is just .168/.286/.372. In 2012, Stewart managed just a .201/.292/.335 slash for the major league Cubs.
The 28-year-old Stewart had a less-than-amicable end to his tenure in Chicago after being non-tendered but later re-signed by the Cubs this past offseason. He never regained the power stroke that he showed during his time with the Rockies. To add insult to injury to the Cubs, one of the players the club dealt to Colorado for Stewart -- 24-year-old infielder DJ LeMahieu -- could be in the midst of establishing himself as a big league regular.
10:50pm: Stewart has received interest from other teams and is weighing his options, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
10:41pm: The Yankees and Ian Stewart are discussing a minor league deal, according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Twitter link). The Cubs released Stewart earlier this week after a controversial outburst from the former first-round pick on Twitter.
Stewart hit just .168/.286/.372 in 133 plate appearances for Triple-A Iowa this season. He's struggled tremendously since a solid 2010 season with the Rockies as a result of a wrist injury that he tried to play through. Stewart ultimately wound up undergoing surgery to correct the issue. From 2008-10, he hit .246/.334/.454 with 53 homers in 349 games for the Rockies.
It's unclear which other teams have talked with Stewart at this time, though Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported yesterday that the Twins aren't interested.
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus released his midseason Top 50 Prospects list (subscription required), and the Twins' Byron Buxton ranked No. 1 overall. Buxton was drafted second overall last season and opened the 2013 season at Class A Cedar Rapids where he .341/.431/.559 with eight homers and 32 steals in 68 games. Here's more on the Twins and the rest of the AL Central...
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins aren't interested in the recently released Ian Stewart. Wolfson also notes that the Twins aren't one of the 10 teams on Yovani Gallardo's no-trade list.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the intensity of trade talks "has certainly picked up," but the Tribe will wait for Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez to get healthy before making final trade assessments.
- Antonetti sounds open to giving John McDonald a job somewhere in the organization, writes Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. "Right now John wants to keep playing," Antonetti said about the infielder, who was designated for assignment earlier today. "If he doesn't get another big league job, we'd certainly talk to him."
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Cubs finally pulled the plug on longtime reliever Carlos Marmol today, announcing they've designated him for assigment. The team also announced the suspension of third baseman Ian Stewart was settled and upheld, and he was granted his unconditional release. The team selected the contract of outfielder Brian Bogusevic to replace Marmol.
Marmol had become a symbol for the Cubs' struggles this year, with a 5.86 ERA, 6.8 BB/9, and 1.95 HR/9 in 27 2/3 innings. He began the season as the team's closer, apparently as a way of building trade value, but lost the job after allowing five runs in his first three outings. Marmol, a converted catcher/outfielder, joined the team's bullpen in 2007, snagged an All-Star nod in '08, and ascended to the Cubs' closing job late in 2009. He peaked in 2010, striking out nearly 42% of batters faced while racking up 38 saves. That season earned him a three-year, $20MM extension in February 2011. Marmol had always had major problems with walks, and now the team will eat the remaining $5MM+ on that ill-advised contract. During November of last year, it seemed like Marmol was headed to the Angels for Dan Haren before the Cubs pulled the plug and the Halos declined Haren's club option.
Stewart's departure was inevitable after a June 11th Twitter rant criticizing the team for letting him "rot" in Triple-A, where he's authored a .168/.286/.372 line since returning from a quad injury. The Cubs handed him a ten-game suspension without pay for the comments for violating the loyalty clause in his contract. The Cubs had non-tendered Stewart in December and re-signed him for $2MM later that month. Given that he cleared outright waivers in May, teams were not anxious to take on his salary, nor was Stewart willing to abandon the money and elect free agency at that time. The Cubs ultimately recoup about $110K of Stewart's salary, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bogusevic, 29, was born in Oak Lawn, Illinois, as was this post's author. The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal in November, and the former first-round pick posted a .319/.418/.512 line with 10 home runs in 304 Triple-A plate appearances this year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The five NL Central clubs' possible trade deadline moves are highlighted by Grantland's Jonah Keri in his weekly MLB power rankings. The Cubs have several trade chips to sell while the Brewers may move some relievers at the deadline but wait until the offseason to decide if they're going to truly rebuild, Keri writes. The Pirates have made deadline additions in each of the past two seasons and have a few clear needs now, though Keri says the current team is good enough to get just a minor upgrade or maybe even stand pat. The Reds and Cardinals both need bullpen help, with Keri noting that the Cards are deep enough that they can get by with Pete Kozma at shortstop.
Here's the latest from around the division...
- The Cubs are close to parting ways with Ian Stewart, sources tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, with "the resolution allowing him to move to another organization is expected to come within a couple of days." The move seemed inevitable after Stewart was suspended by the team after he criticized the Cubs organization in a Twitter rant. Heyman wasn't sure if any financial concessions are involved in the move though since Stewart's deal is guaranteed, he isn't obligated to give back any of the approximately $1MM remaining on his 2013 contract.
- Gerrit Cole may get sent down to Triple-A once A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez return to the Pirates rotation, GM Neal Huntington hinted during his Sunday radio program (passed on by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). Since Cole and Jeff Locke are the only Bucs starters with minor league options remaining, Huntington said “there's a business component to it, as far as keeping our depth....if we need another starter (due to injury) later, it may make sense to send Gerrit back so we have a sixth quality starter.” While Huntington said that Cole's possible Super Two status won't be a factor in the team's decision, a demotion would guarantee that Cole doesn't receive another year of arbitration eligibility.
- Yasiel Puig's instant stardom has raised expectations for the Cubs' own Cuban prospect Jorge Soler, though CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney outlines how the Cubs are taking a more measured approached to Soler's development.
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch also expects the Cardinals to get some bullpen help before the trade deadline, though it's likely to be a smaller-name reliever than Jonathan Papelbon, who isn't a fit in St. Louis for several reasons. Langosch also covers a few other Cards topics as part of this reader mailbag piece.
Phillies president David Montgomery showed support for GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on Wednesday, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer reports. "Ruben is not making independent decisions," Montgomery says. "He's going with a pretty good group of eyes who are looking out there at players and making determinations. God knows we're all trying to bat 1.000 on decision making. The reality is I think we do better than the .300 standard in baseball." The Phillies are 35-38 after going 81-81 last season. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Phillies are among the teams that must rebuild, says ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider-only). (Bowden also names the White Sox and the Brewers.) Bowden says the Phillies should try to trade veterans in order to reduce the payroll and add youth, but they shouldn't blow up the team completely, since the Phillies have a workable core. Trading Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon would be the Phillies' best bet, Bowden says.
- Chris Carpenter, who is trying to come back from a nerve injury, will not factor in the Cardinals' trade deadline plans, GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Gould and Brendan Meyer of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. " He hasn’t pitched yet. It’s still something that he could end up contributing, I think that’s a bonus. But I don’t think, going in to (July 31), (we will be) factoring him involved right now," says Mozeliak. Carpenter felt back tightness after throwing a bullpen session on Sunday.
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says manager Dale Sveum isn't to blame for the team's poor record, ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla writes, citing an interview on ESPN 1000. The Cubs just don't have the talent to provide Sveum with good options right now, Epstein says. "I think Dale is taking a lot of heat for the fact that we don't have currently a roster that is talented enough to regularly win baseball games," says Epstein. "We just don't."
- Epstein also says the Cubs will not release Ian Stewart, Padilla notes. The Cubs suspended Stewart after he sent a series of tweets complaining that the club was unlikely to promote him. "He hasn't lived up to our expectations but he is a human being and his career is at stake," Epstein says. Stewart has hit .168/.286/.372 for Triple-A Iowa this season.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets that the Cubs have suspended minor league third baseman Ian Stewart without pay following a Twitter rant in which the former first-round pick criticized the front office. As Sullivan writes, Stewart stated that the team "might as well release" him rather than let him "rot" in Triple-A, among other things.
Stewart entered today's game hitting .164/.279/.345 with four homers in 129 plate appearances, though he did go 1-for-3 with his fifth home run and a walk today. The California native was selected 10th overall out high school by the Rockies in 2003. He reached the Majors in 2007 and batted .246/.334/.454 with 53 homers in 349 games from 2008-10. He spent the next two seasons trying to play through a wrist injury that ultimately required surgery. He is owed $2MM this season after re-signing with the Cubs in December.
With 40% of their innings coming from relievers, the Pirates' bullpen has been worked the hardest among all National League teams. The onus is on GM Neal Huntington to add depth at the trade deadline, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, who notes that the NL Central is "tougher than many of us expected" due to the Pirates playing .591 ball so far. Elsewhere in baseball's central divisions...
- The Royals are the frontrunner to sign 15-year-old Italian shortstop Marten Gasparini, sources tell Ben Badler of Baseball America, with the Dodgers and Cubs also showing interest. Gasparini, who turns 16 on Friday, is "expected to sign the biggest contract ever for a European amateur player," according to Badler. The speedy switch-hitter may top the $800K the Twins gave to German outfielder Max Kepler in 2009. Be sure to check out Badler's full profile of Gasparini.
- Josh Vitters is the future at third base for the Cubs, president Theo Epstein told Ian Stewart, Stewart explained to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. That means playing time will be hard to come by for Stewart at Triple-A Iowa, where he landed after being removed from the Cubs' 40-man roster this month. Stewart wondered if the comment was Epstein's way of trying to get him to give up his contract, but the third baseman told Muskat, "It wouldn't really make sense for me to take a release or ask for free agency, because then I'd be giving up my contract, and that doesn't make sense for me financially or for my family." Stewart signed a $2MM deal to remain with the Cubs after being non-tendered in December, and hoped to be with the big league club after rehabbing a February quad injury.
- Matt Garza will make his season debut tomorrow with the Cubs in Pittsburgh, and he's eligible for free agency after the season. Jesse Rogers and Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com discussed Garza's future, with Levine suggesting, "I believe if he stays healthy the Cubs will offer him a short-term extension that could be a plus for both sides."
- The Twins "will get a close approximation of what it would be like to have Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in the same lineup" when top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano reach their primes, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America. Asked to rank prospect tandems in terms of potential five years down the road, Callis ranked Buxton and Sano ahead of Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller of the Cardinals, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich of the Marlins, and Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado of the Orioles, among others.
Trade winds could be swirling around the Windy City in the coming months given that both the Cubs and White Sox are in last place in their respective divisions. Here's the latest from both Chicago teams as the focus is already turning towards the July trade deadline...
- Jed Hoyer is "not sure" if Ian Stewart has a future with the team, the Cubs GM told reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune). The third baseman was outrighted to Triple-A earlier this week and has battled injuries since signing with Chicago in the 2011-12 offseason. Stewart hit .201/.292/.335 in 202 PA in 2012 and is struggling in the minors this year. "I hope he starts playing well. I do think there is a lot of talent there… But at this point it’s going to be about performance. Potential can only take you so far," Hoyer said.
- Also from Hoyer (via Sullivan), he feels the Cubs can still turn things around before it's time to consider moving players at the deadline. "We don't want to be a seller. That's not a position you want to be in. But if you are in that position, you have to take advantage of it. You certainly hope you're looking to buy. It's a lot more fun," Hoyer said. With the Cubs in Washington to face the Nationals this weekend, Hoyer praised Mike Rizzo's job in gradually turning the Nats from also-rans into World Series contenders.
- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was similarly optimistic about his team's chances of getting back into the pennant race. Hahn spoke to the media (including ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine) about how he feels the Sox can rebound once players return from injury and a few key hitters break out of slumps. “Our intent from the beginning was that at some point we would be a buyer,” Hahn said. “We continue to have our pro scouts out there looking and talking through ideas. At the same time it will be nice to get some of our injured players back. Trades will not be dictated by speculation, it will be a function of how we play on the field.”
- If the Chicago teams do become deadline sellers, both will have interesting trade chips in the outfield. MLBTR's Steve Adams and Jeff Todd recently looked at the trade candidacy of David DeJesus and Alex Rios, respectively.