Rockies “always planned” to keep Ian Stewart for 2012

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By trading Ty Wigginton last night the Rockies seemingly increased their odds of keeping Ian Stewart around for 2012, but general manager Dan O’Dowd told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that they “always planned on tendering” Stewart a contract.

Stewart spent much of this season at Triple-A despite being a 27-year-old with 1,400 career plate appearances in the majors. He also hit just .156 in 48 games for the Rockies while earning $2.3 million and will be in line for at least that much via the arbitration process.

Stewart is much better than he showed this season, but investing $3 million in his getting back on track is a questionable decision given that he’s a career .236 hitter with a .751 OPS despite calling Coors Field home. If the Rockies indeed retain Stewart and he flops again they have Jordan Pacheco waiting in the wings with top prospect Nolan Arenado potentially ready by midseason.