Cubs to suspend Ian Stewart

Updated: June 11, 2013, 7:53 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

The Chicago Cubs and Ian Stewart will try to find some common ground in ending their relationship, but in the meantime, Stewart will be suspended without pay for his critical tweets of the organization that included the third baseman claiming the team "might as well release" him.

The two sides are talking about an agreement that would allow Stewart to leave the organization and give the Cubs some economic relief from over $1 million left on his contract that called for $2 million in 2013.

"Sure, those conversations are taking place," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.

Contracts such as Stewart's are unbreakable unless the player is granted his outright release. Stewart had stated on his Twitter account that he would not ask for his release because of the money still owed.

"why would I quit? I'm making 2 mill in AAA like u would give that up by quitting," Stewart tweeted.

It appears now that Stewart's place in the organization is untenable at this point.

He had the right to elect free agency (when he was out-righted to the minors) and he chose not to," Epstein said. "Currently, we have the second best production out of third base in the league. We are getting really good defense at third base, too.

"If that were to change and Ian would excel at the Triple-A level, we would consider calling him back up here. In the meantime, we are very happy with our production at third and Ian is working on trying to figure out Triple-A pitching."

Epstein said Stewart violated the loyalty clause of his contract and did not reveal the length of the suspension.

Stewart's agent, Larry Reynolds, issued a statement lobbying for the Cubs to release Stewart so he can try to sign with another team.

"I have spoken to both Ian and Theo regarding Ian's tweets last night. Ian is very apologetic for venting his frustrations with his situation in that manner," Reynolds said in a statement. "He has apologized to the Cubs organization and does not want to be a further distraction. With that being said, if the Cubs don't have Ian in their plans, I feel it is in the best interests of both parties for the Cubs to release him and end this relationship."

Stewart, who is playing for Triple-A Iowa, answered questions on Twitter late Monday night and was asked if he would be back with the Cubs soon. Stewart, batting .168 with 45 strikeouts in 113 at-bats for Iowa, responded "probably never" and later tweeted: "I said that be because the cubs are done With me....there (sic) going to let me Rott (sic) in AAA all season and then non tender me after."

Stewart, who homered in Iowa's 8-5 loss to the Oklahoma City RedHawks on Tuesday afternoon, tweeted later Monday: "I meant they might as Well release since I have no shot of a call up....let me Sign elsewhere."

Stewart, part of the first trade made by Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer when they sent outfielder Tyler Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies for Stewart and pitcher Casey Weathers in 2011, hasn't been able to stay healthy in Chicago. He played in just 55 games in 2012, batting .201 before being shut down for the rest of the season because of a wrist injury.

He hasn't played this season because of a left quad injury that has plagued him since early in spring training. Stewart, 28, was batting .091 when his rehab stint with Iowa ended in early May and the Cubs elected to option him to Triple-A rather than recall him to the major league team. Stewart elected to take the 72 hours players are allowed to report after being optioned even though he was already playing there.

When a tweeter wondered if Stewart would be recalled if the Cubs have an injury, Stewart responded: "junior lake or josh vitters," referring to young third-base prospects at Iowa.

"I honestly believe if (Cubs third baseman Luis) Valbuena were to get hurt cubs wouldn't call me Back up just MHO," Stewart tweeted.

The Cubs have used several players at third base this season with Valbuena now splitting time with Cody Ransom.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE MLB HEADLINES