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After whiffing on – apparently – their preferred third base targets in Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez, the Cubs may be turning back to the guy they thought was going to be the guy in 2012.

According to Jerry Crasnick (who’s been all over Cubs stuff this week), the Cubs are going to be re-signing free agent third baseman Ian Stewart, though the details are not yet known. Crasnick adds that Stewart is “back to full health after playing 2 years with a broken bone in his wrist.” We all know about the surgery he had late in the season which, according to Stewart, finally addressed a lingering problem that other doctors had missed for years. The problem caused him to miss all but 55 games in 2012, and probably impacted his performance.

I’ve been on board with bringing Stewart back for a month now, once it became clear just how disastrous the third base market is. With Stewart, who is still just 27, the Cubs get the upside associated with a hopefully fixed wrist, and they get it for probably very cheap. Once again: 2013 is not likely to be a competitive season for the Cubs, so these are the kinds of risks they should be taking.

Stewart, you should note, is not necessarily being brought back as *the* guy at third base next year. The signing, depending on interest from other teams, could be something in the range of a flyer, and the Cubs will see what they have in him in the Spring. If that’s true, Luis Valbuena will also get a look, or the Cubs might bring in a right-handed platoon-mate for Stewart. (Though, it’s notable that Valbuena, a lefty, is actually a better hitter against lefties, so that could be your platoon right there.)

Given that Stewart was non-tendered last week, and would have made around $2.5 million in arbitration next year, you can safely assume he’ll be getting less than that.

If Stewart is, indeed, signed, that would put the Cubs’ 40-man roster at 41 (together with Nate Schierholtz, Kyuji Fujikawa, and Hector Rondon), so there will have to be a corresponding move before the signing(s) is (are) official.

UPDATE: Bob Nightengale says Stewart is getting $2 million, plus $500K in incentives. So, technically, it’s cheaper than he would probably have cost in arbitration, but not too much cheaper. It’s likely that the third base market did what it did, and bumped up Stewart’s price a little. Still, clearly not an amount of money that prohibits the Cubs from doing anything in the short or long-term.

UPDATE 2: Like Schierholtz, Stewart won’t have enough service time through 2013 to qualify for free agency, so he can be offered arbitration after the season if things work out swimmingly.

UPDATE 3: And confirmation from the man, himself: “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.”

UPDATE 4: Gordon Wittenmyer confirms my expectations about the plan for Stewart – he’s considered the starter, but the Cubs would still like to bring in a righty who can back him up (and, presumably, spell him against tough lefties).

UPDATE 5: Paul Sullivan jumps in with a significant update: a source tells him that Stewart’s deal is not guaranteed. If he doesn’t make the team in Spring Training, he can be released without a financial hit to the Cubs. This is good to know, and makes the deal look even better, but it’s kind of academic, because, if that happens, the Cubs are still without a third baseman, presumably. Then again, given the market, who was that guy going to be anyway? (You should note that arbitration contracts are also not guaranteed (essentially, if you’re on one and are released in Spring Training, the team owes you 30 or 45 days termination pay (depending on when released)). So this deal is probably kind of approximating an arbitration deal.)

  • Matty Ice

    100 losses here we come!

    • Matty

      Stewart is garbage, but 100 losses were coming with or without him.

      • Marcel91

        How about we see what he can actually do with a healthy wrist for once.

  • Kyle

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      :)

    • Spencer

      This is me, if “Ian Stewart” was spelled “Chris Volstad”.

      • North Side Irish

        Oddly, Volstad may hit better, but Stewart is probably the better pitcher.

    • ETS

      i was going to post kyle will be thrilled but still feel bad about my rogers comments from the other day….

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I trust that you were looking up at the ceiling while you shouted that.

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oImxKdFJ24c/T1FlrFpmOaI/AAAAAAAACkM/ANqKh4C3Ek0/s1600/South+Park+Kyle+Broflovski.JPG[/img]

    • MightyBear

      I knew you would love this post. LOL

    • cub2014

      ya we should have signed reynolds. NOT!!!!

      • Kyle

        Reynolds isn’t really a third baseman, so it doesn’t matter.

        If we’re just going to play someone who will probably be awful, you have Valbuena (a little better than Stewart and cheaper) or Vitters (equally bad but with long-term control if a good fairy suddenly grants him baseball skills, which is all you are hoping for out of Stewart).

    • TonyP

      LMAO

  • Marcel91

    Better than the other crap out there. Hopes he hits .270 25 75 like his potential says he can and we can deal him when teams are extremely desperate for help at 3rd or at 27 keep him around till Baez is ready. Smart move

    • Whiteflag

      If he puts up decent numbers, why not just keep him? Third base always seems like a blackhole that is hard to fill. Baez has a while left in the minors.

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    Glad they resigned him. Take a look and see if the surgery worked, if not, cut him loose. I don’t see what the big loss here is.

    • Frank

      Agreed–given the remaining options. If the surgery worked, maybe he comes close to his potential. If not, and he really is what he looked to be last season, let him go. Not a big deal.

    • cubchymyst

      Also glad they resigned him given the other options at this point, his defense will be good and if his wrist is healthy hopefully his offense will improve.

  • willis

    Well…yeah this year is going to suck.

  • Kyle

    He can’t get less than 80% of that, I think on an MLB deal. It could be a split deal or a minor league deal.

    Or something like that. These rules are complicated.

    • ETS

      if you nontender, the 80% doesn’t apply. That applies to non arb eligible, but under team control players (if I recall correctly)

      • Kyle

        There are restrictions on re-signing your own non-tender. I’m just too upset to look them up right now.

    • jayrig5

      I thought that was just if he was tendered? Guys take pay cuts of greater than 20% as free agents all the time. I could be very wrong, it is complicated.

  • fortyonenorth

    Prudent move. No way the Cubs were in on Youk at market price. I wonder who the “back to full health after playing 2 years with a broken bone in his wrist” quote came from.

  • JBarnes

    The other options were Keppinger and Chavez at a higher price…what are we complaining about?

    • brickhouse

      Instad of focssing on the bad free agent market this position should have been filled via a trade.

      • JBarnes

        And get who via trade? Yunel Escobar who said he won’t play 3rd? What other options were better when all we need is a stopgap until Baez/Villanueva are ready. Stewart for a year and regroup next offseason because no matter who’s at 3rd this year we aren’t winning.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Also, the trades are not going to happen until the major free agents are signed. This might seem irrelevant for 3rd where there were no good players available as FAs. However, most of the possibly tradable 3Bmen are young players: and they are not going until teams convince themselves that they cannot fill their pitching and OF needs without dealing an Olt. (My guess is that point simply won’t be reached anyway.)

        This is going to be more true than in the past because of the CBA: for the foreseeable future, teams are going to value their prospects a little more than they used to value them.

  • JR

    He’ll fit right in with the other turds/gimps signed or traded for recently.. Makes perfect sense.

  • George Altman

    Details? Assuming minor league cotract with NRI to Spring Training plus incentives ($1.5M base and PA’s that could double contract)?

  • rbreeze

    I’m glad this wasn’t us.

    The Red Sox have committed $124.45MM to free agents Uehara, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, David Ortiz, Jonny Gomes, and David Ross this offseason.

    Read more at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/#cs22YQvOEIBXZfOM.99

    • Seth

      That’s just downright nasty. All those players, IMO, are overratted and some are getting old.

    • http://deleted cub2014

      those are gonna cost the red sox dearly

    • JR

      Yeah, what the hell are the Red Sox doing? Everyone of those contracts suck. Especially Victorino. Thats just terrible.

    • terencemann

      I think Cherinton inherited Theo’s hot seat in Boston.

  • Rcleven

    2.MM w/500 incentives? Why did they non-tender?

    • Spencer

      Probably for roster flexibility and there’s a chance he doesn’t make those incentives. They’re admittedly not saving much (if anything).

      • EQ76

        or because he was option C. . Non tender hoping to sign a better option, none worked out so we go back to Stewart.

      • Rcleven

        A lot of gnashing of teeth for nothing.

  • Fastball

    There was no other option at this point. At least he can play defense. He has some power. Let’s call him a model no. 2 LaHair. He will play good enough to get on the AllStar team and then sit on the bench for 3 months. Hope he works out.

  • Rizzo44

    Wooooww ok Theo good job… Horrible meetings. Fansi or Marmol still haven’t been traded, no Bourn, McCarthy, Reynolds, Youk, anyone… Need to make some trades happen..

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      They have signed some?

    • bbmoney

      But the good news is Bourn, McCarthy, and Youk haven’t signed anywhere yet (of course this probably precludes Youk)….so they’re still options.

    • JBarnes

      You want a 30 year old known only for his speed/defense at a projected $80-100M? No thanks.

    • EQ76

      Yep, Theo/Jed went shopping at the dollar store this off season.. lots of very boring moves. nothing has excited me at all.. I guess we’ll go into 2013 with a 50 million dollar payroll and be behind the Royals in payroll next year. I’m not saying spend foolishly, but damn..

      • JBarnes

        Honestly who could we have gotten this offseason that would have REALLY made a difference? Yea guys like Hamilton/Greinke would put fans in the seats but no matter their talent they don’t put this team in the playoffs. Save the money and work with the youngsters/prospects on getting where they need to be. In theory, you have a relatively close future lineup of Castro/Rizzo/Baez/Soler/Almora…not many teams can match that young potential talent on offense…yes we still need a ton of pitching but only so much can be done at once.

  • bbmoney

    Is this similar to the Schierholtz signing where on the off chance it works out and he has a good year we can offer him arb for 2014. So basically there is a team option for an undetermined amount?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes.

      • http://deleted cub2014

        so if they sign a starter (dempster,mccarthy,etc) that gives them 42. So they
        would be done. Who would come off the roster from the 42 or will they make a trade?

  • Njriv

    I have no problem with this at all. The market for 3B’s was really weak and in high demand. Stewart is young, a good fielder and cheap, now we can see what he could do fully healthy. Now they can go sign McCarthy, Lannan/Gorzo and fill up the pen and the bench.

  • ottoCub

    Totally agree with this, Brett. Re-signing Steward is a low risk and high upside signing. If he is recovered from the wrist injury he’s a valuable asset. If not, then the Cubs can move on to find a new third baseman.

    “I’ve been on board with bringing Stewart back for a month now, once it became clear just how disastrous the third base market is. With Stewart, who is still just 27, the Cubs get the upside associated with a hopefully fixed wrist, and they get it for probably very cheap. Once again: 2013 is not likely to be a competitive season for the Cubs, so these are the kinds of risks they should be taking.”

  • Justin

    We are hoping to have Baez ready by 2014 so keeping Stewart around another year when they know they are not going to compete is a prety good move. Unfortunately, it’s another bad year for the Cubs, but what else were we expecting this year? Still hoping to grab Bourn though!

  • Patrick W.

    So now what happens to the 40 Man roster?

    Who goes? Confusing move here, I think. Fine with the signing, don’t understand the non-tender.

  • MightyBear

    One good thing, he will probably play pretty good defense.

  • Pat

    Another “flippable asset”?

  • Matty Ice

    How exactly is this 100 loss team any closer to competing than last years 100 loss team?

    We keep hearing how the wonder twins will spend when the Cubs are ready to compete but what have they added that’s makes anyone think they’re closer?

    • willis

      They’re not. In fact they are further away. Still no CF. Still a crap back end of the rotation. Holes all over the lineup. The only thing that has improved, maybe, is the pen. But this roster is worse than last year’s as we sit here right now.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Agreed.

        But it doesn’t really bother me …

        • bbmoney

          I don’t know. We’re more sure of what we’ve got in Rizzo which makes up for a lot.

          But it still probably is a little worse than it was to start the year last year. I’d argue it’s better than the roster we had after the trade deadline though (even if you assume a healthy Garza).

          • bbmoney

            assume a healthy Garza on the 2nd half roster that is.

            or assume he’s still hurt. Same difference.

  • Kyle

    I don’t even think his wrist is really hurt. I think he’s just awful at baseball, and every time a team is about to accept that, he grabs his wrist and yells “ow” and convinces them it’s been bothering him the whole time so they should shut him down and give him another chance next year.

    It’s like Pierce Hawthorne and heart attacks accept we never figure out the trick.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic committed some serious malpractice, then, when they removed something from his wrist this year …

    • JR

      Kyle, Stewart definitely sucks at baseball. But don’t most of the Cubs? In my eyes he’s just another crappy ballplayer on the team we love. Not sure why you single him out over the other garbage on the team. They’re all equal in my eyes…

      • Kyle

        Because out of all the garbage, he’s the one I expect the front office to know better.

        • Frank

          But unlike the other garbage on the team, Stewart offers a significant reward.

          Guys likely to open the season on the big league roster with the possibility of sticking around through 2015 are limited to Castro, Rizzo, Shark, and Castillo. Maybe Wood and Barney if they’re not traded. Maybe Beliveau, Cabrera, Bowden, and Sappelt as role players. Maybe Vitters, Jackson, and Vizcaino join them during the season. That leaves 12 ?s to fill by 2015. Would you rather a bunch of safe bets to be “serviceable” so that we lose 90 games instead of 95, or audition as many low risk/high reward guys as possible who could offer long term answers to said ?s ?

    • Mick

      Hey Kyle, I told you Stewart would make millions in free agency. This is me gloating for making an either right or wrong statement as oppossed to leaving myself an out and always being right either way.

  • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

    Wait, so I was right that his 60-day DL time doesn’t count towards service time? Well then, today just went from a 40 to a 60!

    I know, a sad and pathetic life I lead.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He wasn’t going to have enough either way. That is to say, 2013 was always going to be his third arb year (of four, as a Super Two).

  • The Dude Abides

    I heard he was on the 2013 Cub calendar and they didn’t want to pay to have them reprinted so this makes financial sense in more ways than one.

    I also think he is as likely as any to have a bounce back year, why not? In the spirit of Christmas he adds to our island of misfit toys to enjoy in 2013.

  • Justin

    I don’t like the money we gave him because we could have just went to arb. I don’t get the point of non tendering to save 500k.

    • Justin

      Ahhh never mind its not guarenteed……thank god!!!

  • Leo

    Liquor aisle at the store was empty they said a Guy named Kyle bought all. Now I know why

  • Spriggs

    This blows. Now when he starts struggling, we are going to have to hear about the actual recovery time he needs – and that he JUST had surgery, give him time, etc…

    If he is healthy now (like I read), then I assume that the ridiculous loop in his swing is gone, where it looks like he’s just pushing the bat through. We’ll see soon enough.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he sucks now, he just sucks (or is permanently broken). I think that’s the thinking.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    I am ambivalent. It’s not so much that I’m high on Stewart as that I am down on the possible alternative. Betting on Chavez playing a whole season or even most of one is foolish. Keppinger is a good 3rd IFer. (Indeed, it’s possible that the ChiSox plan to use him that way: supposedly they are still talking with Youk.)

    Acquiring Headley via a trade has been a pipe dream for 12 months. We’ve got to quit smoking it. Olt, Castellanos, Rendon, etc., are not easily for sale: if they are traded, then it’s going to be for an Upton or a Price as part of a big deal. More realistically, their teams have plans for them in the very near future.

    This might all seem very pessimistic, but anybody here who was a Cubs fan between Ron Cey and ARam remembers that getting a good 3Bman was a priority every winter. Oh how we howled when guys like Gaetti signed with other teams: although, in retrospect, the Cubs dodged more bullets than not! Oh how our hopes rose at every Wood, Scott, Orr, etc.!

    If you appreciate schadenfreude, then take comfort in the fact that multiple other teams had 3B as a priority this winter: and none of them have really filled it well.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Doc, FTW.

  • bbmoney

    Another extremely controversial 1 yr $2M and change signing. 2 within 24 hours. Record.

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