The Cubs have finally seen enough from Ian Stewart, and it’s hard to picture how he ever gets back into the team’s plans again.
All this had been building toward Wednesday’s announcement that Stewart cleared waivers and was removed from the 40-man roster. The Cubs are still responsible for his $2 million salary while he’s at Triple-A Iowa.
Stewart went off the grid after getting wrist surgery last summer and didn’t rehab with the team. The third baseman made it through one at-bat in an intrasquad scrimmage before injuring his quad muscle in late February. That was essentially his entire body of work in spring training.
Stewart had been hitting .091 (4-for-44) during his rehab assignment with Iowa when the Cubs officially optioned him last Friday to their Triple-A affiliate. He took the weekend off, using the collective bargaining agreement and the 72 hours players get before they have to report. That couldn’t have impressed the front office.
“We had a lot of discussions with him about it,” general manager Jed Hoyer said earlier this week. “In the end, that was the decision. He has the right. It’s a given right the players have and that was the decision.”
It’s been almost 10 years since the Colorado Rockies used a first-round pick on Stewart, who came to the North Side in the Tyler Colvin/DJ LeMahieu trade, one of the first moves made by the Theo Epstein administration.
Stewart hit .201 in 55 games last season, got non-tendered and re-signed as the Cubs saw their other options evaporate at the winter meetings. Manager Dale Sveum clearly likes the combination of Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom at third base and won’t be lobbying for Stewart’s return.
Stewart was supposed to be a change-of-scenery guy, someone who could rediscover the swing that once made him a 15-homer, 70-RBI type with the Rockies. But the same perception issues followed him from Colorado.
“Of course we’re disappointed,” Hoyer said. “He hasn’t really had a chance to help us and obviously he’s struggled down in Iowa. (There’s) talent there. He’s a left-handed power (bat). He’s a good defender. (But), yeah, it’s disappointing he hasn’t been able to help us.”