Cubs let third baseman Stewart become a free agent
Third baseman Ian Stewart was the biggest name not tendered a contract by the Cubs on Friday.
The Cubs tendered contracts to four players eligible for salary arbitration: third baseman Luis Valbuena, and pitchers Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and James Russell.
Stewart, who was eligible for arbitration, was among three players not tendered a contract. That group also included pitchers Jaye Chapman and Zach Putnam, who were not eligible for arbitration.
All non-tendered players become free agents. It's possible the Cubs will re-sign their non-tendered players, but Stewart remains a question mark. The 27-year-old third baseman batted .201 with 5 homers in 55 games before going down in June with a left-wrist injury that required surgery in July.
The Cubs traded young players Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies for Stewart last December. Valbuena, claimed off waivers from Toronto last April 4, picked up most of the slack at third base, batting .219 in 90 games before heading to winter ball.
"Luis has been playing really well," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We feel really good about what he did this year. Defensively, he was excellent. He got a lot of big hits. I think he does have a pretty good idea of the strike zone. I like the fact that he took the momentum from last season and went down to winter ball and played really well."
Hoyer spoke with Chicago-area reporters early Friday during a conference call. With Friday's moves, the Cubs' 40-man roster stands at 37 heading into the winter meetings, which officially begin Monday in Nashville.
The Cubs can re-sign any of their non-tendered players as free agents. Stewart could come back at a lesser deal, with the Cubs being weak at third base.
One player they're likely to re-sign, either to a major-league or minor-league deal is Chapman, a reliever they seemed to like after picking him up in a July 30 trade with Atlanta for pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson.
In addition to these moves, the Cubs announced that right-hander Casey Coleman cleared waivers and was outrighted to Class AAA Iowa. Coleman was designated for assignment earlier this week, when the Cubs signed pitcher Scott Feldman to a free-agent contract.