Roster Musical Chairs in Full Swing
LHP Jeff Beliveau was Designated for Assignment yesterday, and 3B Ian Stewart has been officially added to the 40-man roster, so now the Cubs just need to clear one more slot for free-agent OF Nate Schierholtz.
Although it might sound strange, the Cubs could outright Stewart to the minors (but with an NRI to Spring Training) to make room for Schierholtz on the 40, just like when they outrighted Manny Corpas to the minors last off-season in January just a month after he signed a major league contract and was added to the 40-man roster in December.
If the Cubs were to opt to do this (and presuming Stewart isn't claimed off waivers), he would (because he has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time) have the right to either elect free-ageny immediately upon being outrighted, or defer free-agency until the day after the conclusion of the 2013 MLB regular season. And if he were to defer free-agency, he would give up the right to be a free-agent after the conclusion of the 2013 MLB regular season if he is added back to an MLB 40-man roster anytime during the 2013 MLB regular season. .
It's very unlikely that Stewart would elect free-agency immediately if outrighted, however, because if he does that his contract is voided and he receives no termination pay. (Both Manny Corpas and Blake DeWitt accepted outright assignments last off-season, when they could have elected free-agency instead),
That could be why Stewart was added to the 40-man roster before Schierholtz.
As for Beliveau, he does not have the right to elect free-agency if outrighted, because he has not yet accrued three years of MLB Service Time and/or been outrighted previously in his career.