Ian Stewart has had a miserable year, hitting .156 in 48 games for Colorado while going back and forth from the majors to Triple-A at age 26, yet told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that he definitely wants to stay with the Rockies next season:
The Rockies are where I want to be. Honestly, I don’t need a chance of scenery. It had nothing to do with this place. There’s definitely no part of me that thinks I need a change of scenery to get going. I feel like obviously I won’t be making as much as I did last year. As far as taking a pay cut, that’s just the rules of the matter. It’s not something I could really argue against. I hit .150 in the big leagues.
That’s a refreshing attitude from Stewart, but because of how arbitration works taking a pay cut after hitting .156 isn’t quite that simple. He made $2.3 million this season and the least he could make via the arbitration process in 2012 is $1.85 million, which is the maximum 20-percent cut. And even that usually only applies to players who missed the season with an injury, whereas Stewart simply performed horribly.
In other words, if the Rockies decide to tender Stewart a contract he’ll be in line for at least $2 million and likely $2.3 million or more. Given how far out of favor he fell this season Colorado non-tendering him certainly wouldn’t be surprising. Trading him is also possible, although how many other teams would want to pay him $2 million in 2012?
It’ll be interesting to see how things play out with Stewart, because while he wants to stay with the Rockies it’s unclear if the Rockies want him to stick around. And even if they do, the arbitration process complicates matters considerably.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.