While on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury Ian Stewart had been playing at Triple-A as part of a minor-league rehab assignment. He hit just .091 in 13 games, so when Stewart was deemed healthy the Cubs activated him from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A.
And then he decided to leave the team for a few days.
Technically when a player is optioned to the minors he has the collectively bargained right to report any time within 72 hours, and players often take that full amount of time to do so. However, in this case Stewart was already playing for the team to which he was optioned, so the 72-hour rule is sort of a loophole.
Here’s what general manager Jed Hoyer told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago about the situation:
We had a lot of discussions with him about it, in the end that was the decision. He has the right, it’s the given right the players have and that was the decision.
Rogers described Hoyer as speaking “cryptically” and it’s not very difficult to read between the lines there. And as Rogers notes, Stewart ruffled some feathers last season when he chose to go home instead of rehabbing a wrist injury with the team (although not enough to stop the Cubs from signing him to a $2 million deal).
All things considered taking a weekend off from work isn’t exactly an earth-shattering controversy, but the way Stewart’s career has deteriorated in recent years it’s definitely curious.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.