It looks like the Cubs may have found their third baseman for 2013 and didn’t have to go very far. The Cubs non-tendered Ian Stewart less than a week ago, and now it seems like they are willing to give Stewart another shot at the hot corner.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reported that the one-year deal is worth $2 million with another $500,000 in incentives. At first glance, the deal doesn’t seem to make sense. MLB Trade Rumors projected Stewart’s arbitration salary at $2.3 million. It seems the Cubs may be over paying by about $200,000.
The beauty of the deal is that it isn’t guaranteed, meaning if the team finds a better option or it decides to cut Stewart after spring training, it won’t owe him the full $2 million.
The third base free-agent market this offseason has been relatively weak and highlighted by names like Kevin Youkilis and Mark Reynolds. According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN, Jed Hoyer also stated that the Cubs were interested in Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez before they signed elsewhere.
Those two guys getting locked up with other teams could be what ultimately prompted the Cubs to re-sign Stewart. It’s another low-risk signing by the Cubs this offseason and almost seems like a backup plan with the third base market drying up and hearing the money owed to Stewart is not guaranteed.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that the Cubs would be willing to give Stewart another chance. Although his career hasn't come around as many had hoped, it’s worth noting that Stewart has been playing with a broken bone in his wrist for the past two years. However, Stewart is now finally healthy, so maybe he can finally prove to the baseball world that he was worth being the 10th pick of the 2003 MLB draft.
This signing didn’t shock me. Stewart still has ability, and you hate to give up on a player whose ceiling was once so high. This signing also gives the team the ability to continue to pursue other third basemen in free agency or trades. It was a smart move by the Cubs.
Stewart is still only 27 years old, so there is still hope that he can get his career on track. Cats have nine lives, but there are only so many chances a player will get to prove themselves, and Stewart is running out of chances. At some point, the potential has to turn into performance. If it doesn’t, the Cubs can always part ways with him again.