Ouch for Stewart, and slightly for the Cubs.
Today the Chicago Cubs announced that they had removed third baseman Ian Stewart from the 40-man roster. To do so, Stewart was waived, went unclaimed, and was outrighted to AAA Iowa, where he was already. That means that no team even wanted Stewart – and his $2 million salary – on its 40-man roster for free. That’s a fairly damning indictment of where he stands with respect to other teams right now (though teams often resist the urge to claim guys like Stewart in these situations so that they, themselves, can call upon the good graces of their fellow MLB organizations when they’ve got an injured/struggling non-prospect/non-youngster they want to send to the minors).
The move, it seems, was not immediately necessary, as the Cubs aren’t hurting for a 40-man roster spot just yet. Then again, it’s always nice to have a little room, and the 40-man now stands at 39. Maybe we’ll learn in the next few days that the Cubs had their eye on a waiver claim.
As for what the move says about Stewart’s future with the Cubs … well … as we’ve been discussing over the last few days, something never seemed quite right. It’s possible the Cubs were admitting that they’d made a mistake in re-signing him, hoped another team would take him off their hands, and, when no team was willing, they’ve decided to let him sit at AAA Iowa until they figure out whether he’s worth the roster spot there. For his part, Stewart accepted the assignment to Iowa so that he could keep his $2 million contract. If the Cubs resort to releasing him, he gets that money either way.
I guess, at this point, you call him depth – he’s spending a lot of time on Iowa’s bench as it is. And when Junior Lake returns to the Iowa roster from his rib injury, the starts will be even tougher to come by.