Ian Stewart has been Colorado’s starting third baseman since mid-2008, turned 26 years old earlier this month, and has more than 1,300 career plate appearances in the majors, but today the Rockies demoted him to Triple-A following a 2-for-26 start.
Stewart missed time during spring training with knee and hamstring injuries and started just five of Colorado’s first 16 games, but he’s presumably healthy given that the Rockies could have instead placed him on the disabled list and sent him out on a minor-league rehab assignment.
What makes the move doubly odd is that Stewart has been replaced at third base with Jose Lopez, who’s hitting just .188 with a .537 OPS in 13 games and was absolutely awful for the Mariners last season. Another option at third base, Ty Wigginton, is hitting .200 with a .539 OPS.
Stewart has plenty of flaws, but demoting him to the minors due to a slow start in sporadic playing time when he has 1,300 plate appearances of track record to go on and the alternatives aren’t any better seems awfully strange.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.