Cubs

Stewart looking for rebound

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Stewart looking for rebound

The Rockies made Ian Stewart the 10th overall pick of the 2003 draft. They believed in the power shown by the kid fresh out of high school.

Eight years later, the Rockies had had enough and sent Stewart on a one-way ticket to Chicago, taking the Cubs disappointing first-round pick Tyler Colvin in return.

It made sense for Colorado. After hitting 43 homers from 2009-10, Stewart struggled mightily in 2011, hitting just .156 with zero home runs.

Stewart is still just 26 (he will be 27 shortly after Opening Day) and the Cubs are counting on a rebound. Stewart isnt only counting on it, hes expecting it.

"I'm coming in here kinda feeling like I have a fresh start with a new organization, a great organization that I'm excited about, he said. I'm just looking forward to going out and trying to be the player that I was a few years back in Colorado.

"I want to show the team that they made a good choice in trading for me. They gave up a good player to get me in Colvin. It's nice to be wanted by such a great organization."

As for why he struggled in 2011, Stewart doesnt have a definitive answer.

"It's really hard for me to pinpoint anything from last year, he said. It was just such a rough year for me. I lost confidence. It was hard mentally for me. It was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through in baseball.

I've already gotten with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo here a few times this offseason and I really feel like I'm in a good place with him and I'm really looking forward to get going."

A big reason for the struggles last season was Stewart did not get a chance to get going. He got just 136 at-bats, appearing in only 48 games as he was shuttled to and from Triple-A multiple times.

That could change in Chicago.

"I talked to Theo and Jed after the trade, Stewart said. They were both excited to have me here. From my understanding, I'm going to get every opportunity here to play everyday and to get those 400, 500, 600 at-bats that I feel that I need to be the player that I can be.

The couple years that I did well in Colorado, I was getting 400 or 500 at-bats. Theo and Jed have been vocal about me getting that opportunity to do that. Obviously, it's on my shoulders, in my hands whether I end up getting those at-bats. If I play well, I'll get them. Just to hear from them how they feel about me is nice to know.

If Stewart is able to get going with the bat, he will be a big addition the Cubs lineup. But he also brings a solid glove and valuable experience and knowledge in rebuilding efforts.

"I'm excited to come in and be a part of a team that looks like it's headed in the right direction, starting from Theo all the way down, he said. We went through a similar situation in Colorado when I was there. We went in the right direction and ended up getting to the playoffs a few times. I'm just looking forward to doing the same thing here.

"The great years that we had in Colorado, I think we were leading the league in defense. That's really where it starts. If you can field, throw, help out the pitching staff and keep the runs down, then you don't need to score a ton of runs. The pressure is off the offense at that point. If we can field our positions and the pitchers can do their job, then I think we'll do fine over here."

Potential Kris Bryant trade market becomes clearer after Anthony Rendon lands with Angels

Potential Kris Bryant trade market becomes clearer after Anthony Rendon lands with Angels

The first domino of this offseason’s third base market has fallen.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, free agent Anthony Rendon is set to sign a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Texas Rangers were also linked to Rendon in recent days, but they’ll now have to shift their focus elsewhere. Texas’ attention is now on the other superstar free agent third baseman — Josh Donaldson — as MLB.com’s TR Sullivan reported. The same can be said about Rendon’s former team, the Washington Nationals.

This leads us to the Cubs and Kris Bryant. With Rendon off the board and Donaldson soon to follow, a potential trade market for the Cubs third baseman is growing clearer.

Only one of the Rangers and Nationals can sign Donaldson, not to mention his most recent team — the Atlanta Braves. When Donaldson’s domino falls, two of these teams will be left empty-handed in their pursuit of a third baseman.

The Los Angeles Dodgers also were linked to Rendon, though they don’t necessarily need a third baseman with Justin Turner manning the hot corner. Their pursuit of Rendon points to how they’re willing to shift Turner off third base, however. Add them to the list of teams seeking third base help.

Add that all up, and you have four teams in the market for Donaldson. The Cubs aren’t guaranteed to trade Bryant, but they’ll soon find themselves with some leverage. For the three teams that don’t land Donaldson, the most logical move will be to inquire with the Cubs about trading for Bryant. The Nationals have already inquired about Bryant, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi.

Bryant’s unresolved grievance case will be an issue in any potential negotiations. The difference between two years of control (if he loses) and one (if he wins) is big when it comes to his value. Even though they’ll have leverage over interested teams, the Cubs will yield stronger trade proposals for Bryant if he loses his case.

But, again, a trade is no certainty. What is certain is teams will be inquiring about Bryant in the not-so-distant future, once Donaldson chooses his free agent destination.

Brewers reportedly sign pitcher Josh Lindblom to address rotation need

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USA TODAY

Brewers reportedly sign pitcher Josh Lindblom to address rotation need

The Brewers are looking overseas to address a rotation that has been one of their biggest weaknesses in recent seasons.

According to multiple reports, Milwaukee is signing 32-year-old Josh Lindblom to a three-year deal. It’s worth $9.125 million but can max out at more than $18 million, should Lindblom hit certain bonuses, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

The Cubs also had discussions with Lindblom, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, before he reached a deal with the Brewers.

Lindblom has pitched in parts of five big league seasons since 2011, most recently with the Pirates in 2017. The right-hander holds a career 4.10 ERA in 114 games (six starts) but he remade himself during a successful stint pitching in South Korea in recent seasons.

From 2018-19 with the Doosan Bears, Lindblom went 35-7 with a 2.68 ERA, striking out 346 batters in 363 1/3 innings. He was named MVP of the KBO in 2019. Some of Lindblom's success can be attributed to the splitter he featured in his repertoire.

Lindblom’s name doesn’t jump off the page, but he’s a low-cost addition for the Brewers and is returning stateside an improved pitcher. Milwaukee finished 14th in starting pitcher ERA in 2019, but that figure was a not-so-great 4.40. They traded mainstay Zach Davies — who had been a rotation mainstay since 2016 — to the Padres two weeks ago.

Lindblom joins a rotation featuring Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer (acquired in the Davies trade). The Brewers also have 25-year-old Corbin Burnes and 23-year-old Freddy Peralta as starting options. The duo struggled in 2019 (Burnes: 8.82 ERA, 32 games/four starts; Peralta: 5.29 ERA, 39 games/eight starts), so the guess here is the Brewers aren’t done shopping for pitching.