12/01/12 10:15 AM ET
Cubs non-tender Stewart, pair of right-handers
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The Cubs tendered contracts to right-handed pitchers Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija, left-handed pitcher James Russell, and infielder Luis Valbuena. Garza, Samardzija, Russell, Valbuena and Stewart were arbitration-eligible.
In addition, 14 players from the Cubs' 40-man roster were tendered 2013 contracts on Friday. Besides Stewart, the Cubs also non-tendered right-handed pitchers Zach Putnam and Jaye Chapman. Putnam and Chapman were not eligible for arbitration.
Putnam was claimed off waivers from the Rockies on Nov. 2. He was 12-for-17 in save situations for Triple-A Colorado Springs, striking out 49 over 60 2/3 innings. Chapman was acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal. He compiled a 3.52 ERA in 40 games for Triple-A Gwinnett, striking out 60 and walking 29 over 53 2/3 innings. He appeared in eight games with Triple-A Iowa after the trade, and was promoted to the Cubs in September. In 14 games with the big league team, he struck out 12 and walked 10 over 12 innings, giving up five earned runs in 14 games for a 3.75 ERA.
The Cubs also announced pitcher Casey Coleman, who was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room on the 40-man roster for pitcher Scott Feldman, has cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Iowa.
With the moves, the Cubs' 40-man roster now stands at 37.
Earlier Friday, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said he hoped the players who were non-tendered would return to the team.
"We do have some hard decisions to make, but we don't want to lose any of the guys we may cut loose," Hoyer said. "If we do have to take them off the roster, I hope we can work out deals to keep them."
The deadline to tender an arbitration-eligible player was 10:59 p.m. CT Friday. Players who are non-tendered become free agents. The Cubs needed to make the moves to open up roster space.
Stewart, 27, was limited to 55 games last season because of problems with his left wrist, which eventually required surgery. Acquired last Dec. 8 from the Rockies for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, he made $2.237 million in 2012. Stewart, who batted .201 before he was shut down, started doing light baseball activities this week.
The Cubs do have some third-base prospects in the system -- including Junior Lake, who was ranked among the batting leaders in the Dominican Winter League; plus Josh Vitters, who batted .121 in 36 games with the big league team. Neither was expected to be ready for 2013. That said, the free-agent market for third basemen isn't very deep.
Now, it will be up to Hoyer to reach contract agreements and avoid arbitration with Garza, Samardzija, Russell and Valbuena. The deadline to exchange salary figures is Jan. 18, and arbitration hearings are held in February.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.