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The Chicago Cubs are not-so-secretly on the market for a third baseman, and have been rumored to be interested in, among others, the Colorado Rockies’ Ian Stewart. The now-rumored asking price? Cubs’ utility player Blake DeWitt.

DeWitt, 26, is the same age as Stewart, but is more versatile and better defensively (at least at 3B). Both have three years of arbitration left, but DeWitt is expected to be considerably less expensive over the course of those three years (he’s eligible for arbitration for the first time after a $460k salary last year, where as Stewart is eligible for the second time after making $2.3 million last year). Stewart, however, has a much higher offensive ceiling after putting up huge numbers throughout his minor league career, and better numbers than DeWitt at the big league level.

Given those countervailing qualities, as well as the expendable nature of DeWitt given the presence of DJ LeMahieu and Ryan Flaherty, you can see why the straight-up swap might make some sense for both teams.

The talks, the Denver Post says, however, have cooled, and might or might not pick back up next week.

The holdup, if I had to guess, has less to do with the Cubs being unwilling to part with DeWitt for Stewart than it does with the Cubs wanting to see what else they might be able to pull off at third base. In other words, if the Cubs feel like they still have a chance to pull off a trade for San Diego’s Chase Headley, a superior all-around player, they’ll want to hold the Rockies off.

The problem? The Cubs aren’t the only team interested in Stewart. Such is the delicate balance of the Winter for MLB teams – moves are not made in a vaccuum, and sometimes you have to pull the trigger on the “best you can do at the time” rather than risk ending up empty handed. That said, I strongly suspect the Cubs would make a best-and-final offer on someone like Headley before dealing for Stewart.

If the Cubs do make a move for Stewart, and assuming he’s handed the third base job, it will be hard to be particularly excited about that move, in isolation. The upside is nice, but the Cubs will quickly be running out of spots to add a significant bat.

I will say this: viewed in isolation (meaning Headley doesn’t exist, and the move doesn’t impact any other future moves), would I trade DeWitt for Stewart straight up if I were the Cubs? Oh heavens yes.

  • Larry

    I’d make this move in a heartbeat. DeWitt isn’t going to be one of the pieces that Theo and crew build around. Stewart might be more expensive, but he has a much bigger upside as well.

    • DRock

      Agreed. Git er done, Theo!

  • TC

    DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT….DO IT DO IT DO IT

  • Spencer

    what were stewart’s splits last season?

  • EQ76

    I see Stewart is better at 2B that 3B.. so why not make the trade, put Stewart at 2B, and then try for Headley? If you don’t get anyone better at 3B you can put Stewart there. I mean, we all kinda feel like Barney may not be the guy for the job.. if anything, having Barney as a utility infielder could be a good idea. Stewart is a lefty and has some power, sounds like more of what we need.

    • CubFan Paul

      getting power out of the 2B position makes me wonder if Theo&Co. are interested in Kelly Johnson ..i can see Johnson signing for 2yrs/$14million

  • Hawkeyegrad

    I like this deal. DeWitt is expendable. Theo said at some point he does not beleive in AAAA players (players that hit real well in in AAA but can not hit in the majors). He said something to the effect that they are likely good major league hitters who have not been given enough opportunity. Stewart seems to fit the bill there. He has desperately needed power at a power position.

  • Deer

    Stewart made Colvin look like he had a good year in ’11. I don’t like the idea of signing guys coming off their worst year as a pro. If the Rox are willing to deal him for so little, that should tell us enough. It’s not like we can count on Rudy to turn him around.

    • EQ76

      he only played in 48 games. not sure we can judge a season when you miss 2/3 of it.

      • Deer

        .156/.243/.221 is why he only played in 48 games. He also hurt his wrist at the end of the year which makes this potential deal make even less sense.

        • Spencer

          his on base percentage was seriously higher than his slugging pct?

        • EQ76

          even so, 48 games isn’t really enough to judge where he is as a player.. the dude hit 25 & 18 HR’s the previous 2 seasons, hit .256 in 2010 and is still young.. Dewitt doesn’t have that kind of power or upside. to me the deal is worth the risk simply because all it’s costing us is Blake Dewitt. I’m not saying Stewart is the answer, but he could be and the asking price isn’t much.

    • hansman1982

      If the Cubs are willing to deal Blake DeWitt for so little, that should tell them enough.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Brett, What do you think it would take to get Headley from the Padres? I’ve read Here (I think) and other places that they would want Josh Vitters in return?!

    And would you get Stewart now and then still go for Headley knowing you could probably move Stewart?

    • Dumpman

      I’m clearly not Brett, but let me take a stab at this. I could see San Diego asking for Randy Wells, Josh Vitters and Chris Carpenter.

      • hansman1982

        Dumper, I would then counter with Carp and Vitters, maybe a A-ball throw in as well.

        • Dumpman

          Def. Wells is probably the most underrated player on our roster. I dont think he’ll ever be special but hes certainly worth a roster spot and is more then capable of a rotation spot. I’d give up some decent pieces for Headley for sure. Vitters, Carpenter, and a lesser 3rd as well. Maybe Vitters, Carpenter and Rhee? Thats a decent package for sure.

  • Randy

    I am not here advocating handing over 3rd base to DeWitt, but I do know how Rudy Jaramillo feels about Blake. Last spring training the Cubs (and Rudy) decided to rebuild DeWitt’s swing and approach. All parties involved knew that it would take some time, but they figured he could handle 2nd base and improve his offensive stats as the season went on. Well, Barney had a great spring and won the job. DeWitt, as the case with most subs, could not get enough at bats to get this new swing/approach down. He did, however, in Jaramillo’s eyes improve at the plate and felt he was on his way to becoming more of an offensive force. Rudy felt he was driving the ball with more force. The overall problem with Blake is that he is not an above average fielder at 2nd base. If you could get a Kelly Johnson type (with some pop) and put DeWitt at 3rd, maybe that is a way for DeWitt to take over at 3rd. Everyone, with the Cubs, feels DeWitt is a much better 3rd baseman than 2nd baseman. I know it’s not the flashy move, but just mentioning as an option (if Headley is not possible).

  • JasonB

    I’d personally drive DeWitt to Colorado and help him find a house to be the only piece we had to give up for Stewart.

    I agree with EQ – make the deal and find a place for Stewart to play.  Our current 2B candidates are not exactly Robinson Cano.

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      Robinson Cano is the only Robinson Cano around right now so good luck finding another.

      • JasonB

        It was my nice way of saying that I don’t like Darwin Barney.  As far as LeMahieu, I hope his newly found plate discipline is for real but I wouldn’t bet on it (yet).

        • Kansas Cubs Fan

          I wouldn’t mind seeing Barney back at 2b next year, he seemed to be the only one who thought about moving runners up instead of trying to drive them in from 1st every time he came up with runners on.

          But I agree with giving LeMahieu a shot next year, I’d like to see him start out the season and if he’s not ready let Barney back in there.

          • JasonB

            Unfortunately, Barney’s numbers last season are about as good as it’s going to get.  There is no upside there.  he’s always going to be a no power guy who’s value is going to be determined by his BA because he doesn’t walk.

            When Theo took over, he said that one of his goals is to acquire assets – Stewart is a perfect example of this strategy because he’s low risk, high risk.

  • hansman1982

    I would do this in a heartbeat.  Worst case scenario we cut him and owe a few hundred thousand if we NEED to clear a roster space, otherwise, I agree with EQ – move him to 2nd and GETHEADLEYDONETHEO

  • Tyler

    For me I would trade Dewitt for Stewart because Headly would cost the Cubs their very few good prospects they have right now, if they dont trade Garza

  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

    I’d do the deal. Put LeMahieu on second, keep Barney around as a backup, and the Cubs just need a first baseman to set their infield.

    If they do land Headley, Stewart drops into the left handed infield bat off the bench role in which he should still get plenty of at bats.

  • Toosh

    My sources say the Rockies would want more than just DeWitt for Stewart.

    • hansman1982

      My sources say that the Hendry Quadsters have recently called Theo indicating their interest in DeWitt.  Quade was recently quoted as saying “I really enjoyed having Blakey around and I hope to work with him in the future as well”.

      The Quadsters only real need this offseason is a solid LOOGY in the pen, which Hendry recently stated that DeWitt was a great fit for.

  • die hard

    Nope. DeWitt was never given full shot anywhere. If Soto not moved to 3B, Id vote for giving DeWitt starting job at 3B and let him play full yr there. Hes good hitter and would hit better than average with some pop. His fielding could be above avg too.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      He had over 400 plate appearances twice in the last four seasons. That’s a pretty full shot by most standards.

      • die hard

        But never settled in one position to be comfortable knowing job is his so can concentrate on position and quality at bats. Also, hes a natural 2 hitter behind Castro. If DeJesus makes the starting lineup, would bat him 6th.

        • hansman1982

          In 2010 he played all but 1 game at 2nd.  Spent 82 games with the Dodgers before coming here, playing 2nd.

          He hit a triple slash of .270/.352/.371 with the Dodgers with an OPS+ of 99.  Basically he is an average player who can play 2nd, 3rd, LF averagelly.

           

          • die hard

            DeWitt at 3B and Baker at 1B for one yr wouldnt be worse thing in world…

            • TWC

              Well, that’s true in the sense that a DeWitt/Baker combo would be a bit of a step up from a TWC/Hansman combo, but I’m not sure how else it would be successful.

              • hansman1982

                WHY DO I GET LISTED 2nd?

                • TWC

                  Dude, it’s cool.  You’re a natural first baseman.  And I’m handsomer.  But whatevs.

                  • hansman1982

                    I think the correct term for you is “pretty”

              • die hard

                inexpensive moves to keep team on hold for one yr. Most true fans will accept 62-100 season if done with the kids at all positions. If Cubs asked me for starting line up idea, in spirit of pure evaluation without regard for finish:

                Colvin LF
                Campana CF
                Szcur RF
                Vitters 3B
                Castro SS
                Barney 2B
                Lamahue 1B
                Castillo C

                On bench:
                Soriano
                Byrd
                DeWitt
                Baker
                Soto
                Johnson

                Starters
                Garza
                Smardzja
                Wells
                Carpenter
                Coleman

                Bullpen
                Russell
                Marshall
                Cashner
                Marmol
                Wood
                Maine

                Package DeJesus and Dempster in trade for prospects

                • hansman1982

                  Absolutely that would be “without regard to finish” or “without regard to the development of Vitters/Scuzur/Carpenter” or “without regard to the rules in trading DeJesus”

                  I think 62 wins is an incredible stretch with that lineup.  I will give it you though the Pen and Rotation don’t look too terrible (outside of the fact you have 3 guys who would max out at 120 innings or less in Shark, Carp and Cash)

                • EQ76

                  drinking early die hard? first off, I think there’s a rule where you can’t sign a FA then trade them so soon.. not sure, but I think you can’t, so DeJesus stays.

                  second, nobody should be okay with a 62-100 team.. and the Theo Trio have all but assured us that an all young, full scale rebuild is NOT going to happen.

                  So all in all, you wasted about 4 minutes of your time typing this. I guarantee you the Cubs will field a good enough roster next year to be an over .500 team.

                  • die hard

                    if ur right then would be setback…only way for long term success is to tear down and start over….bridges to nowhere dont work..

                    • EQ76

                      nah, you can rebuild and be good at the same time.. “rebuilding” or “building a good farm system” isn’t rocket science.. Spend money on draft pics, draft wisely, and know when to make good trades for vets. All things Hendry/Trib.Co. didn’t do, but the new regime will do.

                      The Braves manage to be good every year and still have a terrific farm system.. same with the Phils, Red Sox, etc.

                      All signs point to the Cubs being just like the Red Sox..Hell, Ricketts flat out said that’s what he wants!

                      We have the money for a top 5 payroll, the leadership and brains to draft well, and a strong desire from the front office to put a winner on the field now and in the future.

    • deej

      die hard – why are you STILL pushing Soto for 3rd? that has slightly more likelihood as us getting both fielder AND pujols and pujols playing 3rd for us next year….

      • die hard

        If want to contend in 2012, he would be worth shot at 3B and then find veteran good defense/arm catcher to start… his numbers improve whenever hes been rested…away from catching demands would improve power numbers…hes got sufficient reflexes and arm to be improvement over Aram…short term 1-3 yr option til kid emerges

        • EQ76

          I’m actually thinking Die Hard has a good idea on this one. Soto has enough offense to make the transition.. if anything, it could prolong his career and save a few seasons off his legs. I’m positive Soto would not want to, but it could be worth trying.

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            Move him to first? Sure. Third? I just can’t see it.

            • EQ76

              that’s probably a more likely idea.. but I really think we’ll end up with Fielder this year.

  • Hawkeyegrad

    Stewart’s 2010 slash in 441 AB was .256/.338/.443. His terrible 2011 slash in only 122 ABs consisted of an amazingly low .224 BABIP where his 5 year average is around .300. The guy strikes out alot but he has power and upside. This is a good buy low opportunity with low risk

    • Spencer

      I’m not sure you can call it “low risk” with someone coming off a wrist injury that cost him basically 3/4 of a season and could very possibly have lingering effects (read: Derrek Lee). Not sure I see the merit in trading away a very good utility player for someone that may or may not even be fully recovered from an injury. I’d say avoid Stewart, even if Headley doesn’t happen.

      • Hawkeyegrad

        Good point…I meant low risk from a “getting stuck with him on the roster standpoint if he did not pan out but having control over him if he did”, not low risk from a “plug him in the line-up and you don’t have to think about 3B for the next 3 years” point of view. I do agree that they need to get comfortable with the impact of the lingering effects of the wrist injury before making the deal but if they can, these are the types of risks the team needs to take to become competitive.

  • oswego chris

    seems to good to be true to me….deWitt has shown nothing the last year and a half….

    any turnover on the roster excites me….

    castro, garza, dejesus, wood, marshall, dempster, cashner, smard, carpenter

    thats my roster so far…..

    • hansman1982

      and I think that is a great roster to build around.  If you do want Dempster back after this season to mentor young guys and eat 200 innings he will only get cheaper, same with Wood (minus the 200 innings), and the rest are all young or good role players.

  • Deer

    Isn’t Stewart a non-tender candidate? As of a couple weeks ago, he hasn’t been able to resume baseball activities due to his wrist. His upside is power and we know what wrist injuries do to power hitters. move on

  • BFM

    Brett

    Do you think it would be possible to grab Stewart now and then if Headley is available, roll Stewart and someone else into a deal?

    Is that too much to give up for Headley?

    BFM

    • Wrigley11

      Although I’m not Brett, in my mind it’s probably not enough. Headley can likely garner the Pad’s a package along the lines of Vitters-McNutt or Vitters-Carpenter, and that still wouldn’t guarantee a deal in my opinion.

      I will say I would be very happy if the Cubs were able to pull of a deal for Headley for either of those packages. Headley is probably the best 3b candidate the Cubs can hope for going in to 2012

      • hansman1982

        I would do a Vitters/Carpenter trade.

  • Louis

    Keep Dewitt…get rid of Jeff Baker….trade for Headley….have Lomo, Dewitt, and Barney compete for 2nd base.

  • Tim Mo

    Long time reader/first time poster.

    As a Chicago transplant living in Denver and Rockies season ticket holder (still a Cubs diehard, just love baseball) , I’ve seen a lot of Stewart. He has a good range at third, not sure what his stats are but it doesn’t sound like he is not getting his due for his glove. He would be an updgrade at 3B compared to ARam. Stewarts wrist affected him later in the season, he missed a good chunk early on because he was struggling at the plate and had a hamstring issue. The wrist does make me nervous, he still hasn’t taking any swings. I strongly believe he needs a change of scenery, but it sounds like the Rox are asking a lot for him. If it’s Blake straight up, I’d do it in a second.

    • CubFan Paul

      nice.

  • Sam

    Done… Iannetta at 2B then get Headley to play 3B. Lets face it DeWitt has little trade value and this is a great deal… for the Cubs. Either the Cubs are missing something or the Rockies are just retarded but either way its a great deal for the cubs

    • ferrets_bueller

      you mean Ian Stewart at 2b, right? Iannetta is a catcher.

      • TWC

        Oh, no!  Sam is die hard!

        • BetterNews

          I think your right!(LOL)

  • Tim Mo

    Rockies might also want Colvin along with DeWitt.

    http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_19456564

    • ferrets_bueller

      my response would be “take him!” Even with it being Colvin and Dewitt for Stewart, I still feel the Rockies are getting ripped off.

      • Tim Mo

        I agree, I want to see Stewart get a shot somewhere outside Colorado. His ceiling is high and for some reason unless your Tulo or Cargo, Colorado hitters have been regressing in the last season or two. Tulo and Cargo also had some struggles. change of scenery would be best. I think the Rox management are playing games to get a better offer, I think they want to get Stewart off their hands.

        • Tim Mo

          Plus, I’m tired of hearing about Colvin not getting enough at bats.

          • hansman1982

            agree, late in 2010 and early in 2011 he got quite a few at bats – full time gig, no, but he still got a decent look.  What we all fail to realize is that we dont see the pre-game batting practice and the work in the cage.  He may have looked atrocious there as well.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Its now being reported that the Rox aren’t interested in just dewitt, and would vastly prefer to get pitching in return for any Ian Stewart. Knew it was too good to be true (although, I’d still prefer a deal for headley- I expect him to turn into a very good player once he leave SD, while I expect Stewart to continue underachieving…although his potential is tantalizing)

  • Pakman23

    Im failing to see the upside of Stewert, I don’t hate him. But don’t see much potential to grow unless he can put the ball in play considerably more than he does. I don’t think I can remember a player with a .234 BA when he has a career .298 Babip. That is just unheard of, and leads me to believe he is what he is, a low BA, Low OBP guy with 15 to 20 homer power. Not really interested.

    • Tim Mo

      You’re probably right and stats wise he doen’t seem like a Theo type player. He’s young, with a manageable contract. I think he could be a low risk, high reward type player.

    • Hawkeyegrad

      I think you are underselling Stewart’s potential power. Taking out last year, he compares closely to Calos Pena’s stats during his first 4 years in the league (they both entered the league around the same age). I did this quickly but I think Pena had a 246 avg, .327 OBA, and .293 babip in 1,392 ABs with a peak of 19 HR’s.

      Taking out last years stats, Stewart had a 243 avg, .332 OBA, and .306 babip in 1,282 AB’s with a peak of 25 HR’s.

      We all know Pena went out to slug 46, 31, and 39 HRs in three consecutive years. Not saying that will happen with Stewart but it is clearly in the realm of possible. Pena broke out with a 27 HR season when he was 26 and regressed to 18 HRs when he was 27 in a similiar way Stewart went from 25 HRs at 24 and regressed to 18 HRs at 25.

  • john

    Worst case Stewart becomes a Utility inf. option.

  • Chris84

    If Headley’s off the table, I say do it.

  • Trey

    Well I’m new here but Brett puts some good stuff. If that die hard guy was making the decisions the Cubs would never win a game

  • Dumpman

    If its Colvin and DeWitt for Stewart I would still do that.

    • Toosh

      That’s too much for Stewart. I’d think twice about even trading Colvin straight up for Stewart.

      • Dumpman

        Mind if I ask why? Colvin has never really impressed me. Lacks disclipline is the worst way. Has power, and is decent in COF. If he could play an above average CF, certainly he would eb good value. But as of now I’, not sure hes anything more then a 4th OF. Hes one of those guys I haven’t liked since day one. I was begging Hendry to deal him after his nice rookie season.

        • Toosh

          Nope, don’t mind at all. I just believe that there are a lot of question marks regarding Stewart and that Colvin has more value. I would think about Stewart for DeWitt, but the Rockies want more.

      • Kyle

        How about we just waive Colvin and pass on Stewart? I know that trying to “buy low” on bad players is the new market inefficiency, but at some point being bad recently has become a badge of honor for a player’s value.

  • TSB

    A few weeks ago, I suggessted that Headley’s batting stats were not as good as the Cubs need at 3B. I got jumped on by fans saying “well look at Petco, it’s a batters’ graveyard and bigger than Graceland Cematery”. Now we have Ian Stewart, who plays in maybe the best hitters’ park around, and his batting numbers are not that good, even with the thin mountain air inflation. Shouldn’t Cub fans take that into consideration, that maybe he is not that good for a power position?

    • Dumpman

      If he put up an .800 OPS at 3b next season, which he is capable of, that would put him among the top 3B in the NL next season. For a utility IF and a 4th OF at best, thats good value IMHO.

    • Kyle

      Colorado isn’t the hitters’ park it used to be.

      But yes, Headley is a significantly better player than Stewart.

      Given Stewart’s likely $2.5 million price tag, I’m not convinced he’s a better value than internal options.

      • CubFan Paul

        he has more Power than internal options ..unless Jeff Baker or LeMahieu have some hidden SLG power

        • Kyle

          He has zero home runs in his last 56 MLB games and is coming off a major wrist injury. I’m taking the under on his 2012 HR total.

      • Dumpman

        I agree Headley is a much better option. But I’ve read reports thats the Pads may not be interested in dealing him.

        You’ve got Kouzmanoff in FA. Not a bad choice here.

        Internally You have LeMahieu and Flahetry. Vitters isn’t ready. You could also go with DeWitt. LaMahieu, Flahetry and DeWitt all project as Utility, with IMHO Flahetry having the most promise as doing more.

        Maybe its just my opinion, but Stewart shows far more potential then all these guys. He has an average glove and a chance for an above average bat at 3B. We literally have 4 guys that can fill a void left by Colvin and DeWitt. I just think its worth a swing on Stewart.

  • BetterNews

    If I am Theo, I would absolutely make the DeWitt for Stewart trade, provided Stewart is able clear a medical evaluation.

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