On Monday, the Cubs announced another series of roster cuts, so it’s a good time to look at who’s left and see what we can piece together as far as a roster.
Infielders Junior Lake and Josh Vitters have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while infielder Christian Villanueva has been optioned to Double-A Tennessee. Outfielder Jorge Soler has been optioned to Single-A Daytona.
Three non-roster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: Right-handed pitcher Barret Loux, infielder Javier Baez and catcher Rafael Lopez.
We’re inching closer to the final 25 so let’s take a look at the remaining spots up for grabs.
This is always the biggest crap shoot when it comes to a roster out of camp. So many GM’s will go out and spend money on relievers only to see them under-perform. I’ve always been a strong advocate of building your pen from your system and spending money on position players and starting rotation guys. The Thed regime seems to be following that model with this year’s pen, with the exception of Kyuji Fujikawa, who was brought in this off-season. There are still a good amount of guys competing for those last three spots. The remaining names in camp that could win a job are: Michael Bowden, Drew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Rafael Dolis, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Zach Putnam, Hector Rondon, Chris Rusin, Hisanori Takahashi, and Cory Wade. Of those names, there are really only a few legit contenders.
Carpenter, Chapman, Wade, and Lewis all have no shot and should be included in in the next series of roster cuts in the next week. That still leaves eight guys for three spots. If it were my call, I’d give one of the spots to Bowden because he’s out of minor league options and has pitched well enough this spring to earn it. He can fill the long relief role.
Both Coleman and Rusin have both pitched well this season, but I think I would send both down to continue to develop as starters. The Cubs have very few arms anywhere close to ready for the Majors in the farm so both of these guys can work on that in Iowa and be ready if needed.
To me, the most intriguing two names are Rondon and Takahashi. Rondon would need to make the team if the Cubs want to keep him, since he’s a rule 5 selection. Reports are that he’s more Major League ready than some of the more recent rule 5 guys the Cubs have selected in the past, so you have to root for him to make the team. Takahashi is old, but interesting because he has experience and throws left-handed. I don’t think he’ll make the team out of camp, but I’m curious to see what happens to him from there. If I’m his age, I don’t think I’d be accepting a minor league assignment. If I had to guess, I’d predict Rondon to get one of the spots with Dolis taking the last one.
The final spot in the outfield appears to be coming down to a pair of righties (Dave Sappelt & Darnell McDonald) and a lefty (Brian Bogusevic). To be honest, I don’t know how it’s even a question. Both Sappelt and McDonald have struggled to hit .200 in spring training. Before you mention that those stats mean nothing, save it. I understand that spring numbers are useless, but when you’re fighting for a job and are at times facing less than stellar pitching from the opponent, shouldn’t you be hitting a lot closer to .300 than .200? I give the job to Bogusevic, despite the fact that he’s a non-roster guy.
This is down to one spot and it’s a matter of if it goes to Ian Stewart or not. You can pencil Brent Lillibridge in for a roster spot as the super utility guy. I think Svuem’s patience with Stewart is waning so it may end up coming down to another non-roster guy with the injury to Junior Lake late last week, with Alberto Gonzalez the likely leader in the clubhouse. The concept of adding this many non-roster guys to the opening day lineup completely blows my mind, which got me looking for guys that would be likely candidates for removal from the 40 man. I didn’t like what I found. It’s going to be a very interesting next two weeks to see how this roster shakes itself out.