After allowing third baseman Ian Stewart to test the free agent marker by not tendering a contract offer, the Chicago Cubs have resigned the former Colorado Rockie. Stewart spent last season in Chicago battling injuries, limited him to only 55 games. The move most likely means the end of the Cubs third base dilemma, although Luis Valbuena has been having a solid winter while playing in Venezuela.
Stewart is a solid defensive third baseman but he has struggled at the dish for the majority of his big league career, with a career .232 batting average. The move does make sense for the team, as the deal is just one-year for $2 million, meaning it is low risk. Still, given the excitement Theo Epstein brought with him when he came to Chicago last season, the Cubs are still yet to make much noise in the offseason. Instead opting to follow the plan of short deals for players with a lot of upside.
Although Stewart is probably not the long term answer for the Cubs, it does seem fair to give him another shot at a full season, as Chicago did not get a chance to see the third baseman in action for a full season last year. Also, he was hampered by a wrist injury which was repaired with surgery, so Stewart will come back stronger than he finished 2012.
The return of Stewart does not signal the end of Valbuena's chances to play a primary role on the Cubs next season, but it certainly does not bode well for him. While the franchise continues to mold Javier Baez into the third baseman of the future, third base will continue to be a spot of weakness for the Cubs. It's now up to Stewart to sure up the position.
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