Ian Stewart Rumors


Free Agent Rumors: Lannan, Escobar, Youkilis, Drew

With plenty of rumors flying around the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, we're making sure we don't let anything slip through the cracks. Here are a few morning updates from around the league on some of this winter's free agents:

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Mets have displayed interest in the recently non-tendered John Lannan, perhaps as insurance if the team trades a starter.
  • Although he hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2009, Kelvim Escobar is healthy in winter ball and is drawing interest at the Winter Meetings, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney.

Earlier updates:

  • The Yankees have spoken with Kevin Youkilis' agent, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link). According to Curry, Youkilis would consider a one-year deal if the salary was at a "premium amount."
  • The Mariners are interested in free agent outfielder Nate McLouth, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • A rival evaluator tells ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter link) that there's "no way" Stephen Drew would sign with the Yankees to be a part-time or utility player. Drew is seeking a full-time job.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that giving up a draft pick to sign Nick Swisher would be a factor in Boston's pursuit of the outfielder (link via Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com).
  • Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald hears that the Red Sox still have a chance in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes, but it's a long shot (Twitter link).
  • After getting a clean bill of health on his hand and wrist, Ian Stewart has drawn wide interest from teams looking for third base help, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times notes (via Twitter) that Stewart could be a fit for the Yankees.
  • Within his latest piece for the New York Post, Ken Davidoff hears that the Mets and Ryan Ludwick are an unlikely match, and wonders if Nick Swisher could end up with the Mariners.
  • The Reds will meet with Ludwick's agent this morning, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The veteran outfielder could accept the offer on the table from Cincinnati, though Fay speculates that the Reds are offering two years and Ludwick wants three. A two-year deal with a third-year option might work for both sides, says Fay.
  • The Athletics will meet with the reps for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • The Dodgers, Giants, Brewers, Angels, and Rays are among the teams that have inquired on free agent reliever Mark Lowe, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • Scott Kazmir, who is throwing 90-94 mph in Puerto Rico, is drawing interest from a host of teams and could choose from a handful of offers soon, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, the Mets aren't in the mix for the lefty, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.



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:

  • The Reds announced that they also avoided arbitration with Homer Bailey and Paul Janish (Twitter link). Reds reliever Bill Bray announced that his agents at Octagon finished his deal.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Nate Schierholtz on a $1.3MM deal that includes $150K in incentives, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News tweets. The Giants avoided arbitration with reliever Santiago Casilla, agreeing to a $2.2MM deal with $200K in incentives, tweets Enrique Rojas.  MLBTR had projected the ACES client for a $1.9MM salary.
  • The Pirates avoided arbitration with Evan Meek , agreeing to a one-year $875K deal that includes $25K in performance bonuses, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch tweets.  The Pirates avoided arbitration with starter Jeff Karstens, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on a deal worth $3.1MM.  MLBTR projected the Moye Sports Associates client for $2.8MM. 
  • The Brewers avoided arbitration with reliever Kameron Loe, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.  Loe obtained $2.175MM, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.
  • The Nationals have avoided arbitration with reliever Tyler Clippard, according to their Twitter feed.  The Nationals also announced they've avoided arbitration with pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Tom Gorzelanny.  Both are represented by SFX.  Zimmermann received $2.3MM, tweets Heyman, and Gorzelanny gets $2.7MM.
  • The Yankees announced pitchers Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson have avoided arbitration.  Jon Heyman has Chamberlain around $1.675MM and Robertson at $1.6MM with $25K in incentives.
  • The Red Sox announced an agreement with infielder Mike Aviles.  It's worth $1.2MM, tweets John Tomase of the Boston Herald.
  • The Athletics announced agreements with their final two arbitration eligible players: pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Joey Devine.  McCarthy will make $4.275MM, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  She says Devine gets $737,500 plus incentives.
  • The Royals announced arbitration deals with pitchers Luke Hochevar, Felipe Paulino, and Jonathan Sanchez.  Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star pegs Hochevar at $3.51MM, Paulino at $1.9MM, and Sanchez at $5.6MM with $200K in performance bonuses.
  • The Marlins avoided arbitration with reliever Edward Mujica, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
  • The Mariners avoided arbitration with reliever Shawn Kelley, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns.  The deal is worth $600K.
  • The Rays announced they've avoided arbitration with reliever Burke Badenhop on a deal worth $1.075MM.  He gets $25K for 50 games pitched, MLBTR has learned.  Badenhop is represented by ACES.
  • The Rockies avoided arbitration with outfielder Dexter Fowler for $2.35MM, MLBTR has learned.
  • The Tigers announced they've avoided arbitration with pitcher Max Scherzer and outfielder Delmon Young.  Jon Heyman pegs the Scherzer deal at $3.75MM and Young at $6.75MM.  The Tigers also avoided arbitration with utility man Don Kelly, agreeing to a $900K deal, tweets Heyman.  Matt Swartz projected $800K for the LSW Baseball client.
  • The Astros avoided arbitration with starter J.A. Happ on a deal worth $2.35MM, tweets MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
  • The Phillies avoided arbitration with infielder Wilson Valdez, tweets MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  The team announced the value at $930K.  Given their deal with Cole Hamels, only Hunter Pence remains.
  • The Indians avoided arbitration with reliever Joe Smith and third baseman Jack Hannahan, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  Smith gets $1.75MM and Hannahan gets $1.135MM.
  • The Mets avoided arbitration with outfielder Andres Torres on a deal worth $2.7MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.  Matt Swartz had projected $2.5MM for the ACES client.  The Mets also avoided arbitration with reliever Ramon Ramirez, agreeing to a $2.65MM deal, tweets ESPN's Enrique Rojas.  The ACES client was projected by MLBTR for a $2.3MM salary.  The Mets finished up by announcing an agreement with Manny Acosta.  Andy McCullough pegs that one at $875K.
  • The Blue Jays announced they've avoided arbitration with pitcher Carlos Villanueva on a $2.2775MM deal.  Villanueva is represented by SFX.
  • The Royals avoided arbitration with outfielder Mitch Maier, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  The deal is worth $865K with a potential $10K bonus for 100 plate appearances, tweets Dutton's colleague Rustin Dodd.  Maier is represented by Eric Sobocinski.
  • The Twins avoided arbitration with reliever Glen Perkins, agreeing to a $1.55MM deal, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Matt Swartz had projected $1.5MM for the SFX client.
  • The Rangers avoided arbitration with reliever Mark Lowe, agreeing to a $1.7MM deal, tweets Evan Grant of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  MLBTR's Matt Swartz had projected the Jeff Frye client at $1.6MM.  The team also avoided arbitration with outfielder David Murphy, tweets Anthony Andro, on a deal worth $3.625MM.


  • 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...









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