The #Cubs re-signed third baseman Ian Stewart to a one-year, $2 million contract with $500,000 worth of incentives— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 6, 2012
Stewart was acquired last offseason, along with Casey Weathers, from Colorado in exchange for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu. To say that Stewart's 2012 was disappointing is an understatement. In only 55 games, Stewart hit .201/.292/.335 with five home runs and 17 runs batted in. His season ended on June 12 when he underwent surgery on a wrist that had been bothering him for two years.
Those wrist issues have limited Stewart, who was once a Top-10 prospect (and who was a Top-100 prospect five years in a row) to hitting .232/.319/.417 in his career; he was marginally better in 2012 for the Cubs than he was in 2011 with the Rockies. Stewart will turn 28 just after Opening Day. It appears that Theo and Jed figure that Stewart was a better option than spending more money (probably $10 million a year or more) on Kevin Youkilis, or (thank heavens) trying out someone like Yuniesky Betancourt at third base.
This has the added benefit of making Luis Valbuena a utility player. Valbuena can play second base, shortstop and third base competently and not putting him in the lineup every day will likely make Valbuena's bat less exposed. He was a pretty good pinch-hitter in 2012 and I'd expect him to fill the same role, this time for the whole season, in 2013.
The Cubs could have done better, I suppose; but they also could have done worse. Story of the Cubs' history, in a way.