I had meant to submit these articles for the opposite NL central golf equipment as Spring Coaching previews, however there have been a number of roster strikes and additions from the assorted camps, so I assumed it greatest to attend till the roster conditions turned extra crystalized, as a substitute of offering fixed updates. I’ll define the transactions the golf equipment have made for the reason that begin of camp, in addition to present the present 40-man roster and NRIs remaining in camp, along with notes on the accessible jobs and roster state of affairs.
2/27/21: Despatched LHP Zach Bryant to the Boston Red Sox because the participant to be named later within the August thirty first, 2020 Josh Osich commerce.
2/28/21: Designated RHP Robert Inventory for project. Activated LHP Kyle Ryan from the COVID-19 Associated IL. 40-man roster nonetheless full.
Ryan needed to be added again to the 40-man as soon as he got here again from the COVID-19 Associated IL, which required a roster trim. Inventory, a former Cardinal farmhand as a catcher, ultimately surfaced within the majors with the Padres in 2018 as a reliever. His management has fallen off a cliff since that respectable season, and regardless of not too long ago claiming him on waivers, the Cubs simply didn’t suppose he may crack the roster with all the different right-handed pitching choices accessible. He’ll stay within the group as a result of he doesn’t have the appropriate to elect free company in lieu of an outright project to the minors.
3/2/21: Re-signed RHP Ryan Tepera to a 1-year, $800,000 contract. To make room on the 40-man roster, designated RHP Duane Underwood, Jr. for project. Outrighted RHP Robert Inventory to AAA Iowa. 40-man roster nonetheless full.
This was a great signing by the Cubs, as Tepera was among the finest relievers the membership had final season. His cutter had the best whiff fee of anybody in baseball. Though Tepera’s contract requires a base wage of $100,000 lower than final 12 months, he can max out by an extra $950,000 if he pitches 60 video games and is on the lively roster for 120 days.
Underwood has been within the Cubs’ group since 2012, when he was a 17-year previous second-round draft selection. As soon as one of many extra promising beginning pitching prospects within the system, he had hassle staying wholesome, had a smattering of points with command, and all the time had low strikeout charges within the seasons the place he did see prolonged motion within the rotation. He made one begin for the large membership in 2018, after which spent a part of 2019 and all of 2020 within the bullpen. Underwood’s peripherals within the majors had really been positive, and he struck out over 30% of the batters he confronted final 12 months. Regardless of that, he’s given up extra contact than you’d like for anybody in a high-leverage state of affairs, and he gave up 5 homers in solely 20.2 IP final season. The Cubs most likely didn’t need to make this transfer, however simply ran out of time with Underwood, as he was out of choices. I can see an argument the place the membership could be higher off with Underwood as a substitute of somebody like Brandon Workman.
3/5/21: Signed IF Eric Sogard to a minor league deal and invited him to spring coaching.
3/7/21: Traded RHP Duane Underwood, Jr. to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 1B Shendrik Apostel.
Apostel is a 20-year previous first baseman that has solely performed 2 seasons within the Dominican Summer time League, with 68 video games complete beneath his belt. The Cubs should have figured that somebody would have simply taken Underwood off of their arms for the waiver worth, so tried to get one thing again.
3/12/21: Returned Rule 5 choose RHP Grey Fenter to the Baltimore Orioles. 40-man roster at 39. Optioned RHP Cory Abbott, RHP Tyson Miller and RHP Kohl Stewart to AAA Iowa. Optioned RHP Manuel Rodriguez, C Miguel Amaya and IF Christopher Morel to AA Tennessee. Assigned RHPs James Borque, Juan Gamez, Jake Jewell, Tommy Nance, Michael Rucker, Robert Inventory, LHPs Brendon Little and Jerry Vasto, Cs Taylor Gushue and Tyler Payne, IFs Abiatal Avelino, Alfonso Rivas, Chase Strumpf, Andy Weber and Patrick Knowledge and OF Brennen Davis to minor league camp. 49 gamers left in camp (33 40-man roster gamers + 16 NRIs).
I by no means did perceive why the Cubs drafted Fenter within the main league portion of the Rule 5 draft within the first place. Though he had a pleasant pedigree and a few upside, he’s 25 years previous, has been injured loads, has but to pitch above A ball and doesn’t look prepared for the majors. If he hadn’t been a Rule 5 participant, they virtually actually would have DFAd him once they signed Ryan Tepera, however due to the Rule 5 guidelines, right this moment was the primary day that he was allowed to be outrighted to the minor leagues. The choose basically value the membership Duane Underwood, Jr. Because it stands, the Cubs get $50,000 again out of their unique draft worth and a 40-man roster spot opens up.
3/15/21: Optioned RHP Keegan Thompson to AAA Iowa. Re-assigned IF Trent Giambrone to minor league camp. 47 gamers left in camp (32 40-man roster gamers + 15 NRIs).
3/19/21: Optioned RHP James Norwood, LHP Kyle Ryan and LHP Justin Steele to AAA Iowa. Optioned LHP Brailyn Marquez to AA Tennessee. Re-assigned RHP Joe Biagini, C Jose Lobaton, and OFs Michael Hermosillo, Nick Martini and Ian Miller to minor league camp. 38 gamers left in camp (28 40-man roster gamers + 10 NRIs).
Cory Abbott (R, 3), Jason Adam (R, 2), Adbert Alzolay (R), Jake Arrieta (R, N/A), Andrew Chafin (L, N/A), Zach Davies (R, N/A), Kyle Hendricks (R, N/A), Jonathan Holder (R, 1), Craig Kimbrel (R, N/A), Dillon Maples (R), Brailyn Marquez (L, 3), Tyson Miller (R, 2), Alec Mills (R), James Norwood (R, 1), Manuel Rodriguez (R, 2), Kyle Ryan (L, 1), Justin Steele (L, 1), Kohl Stewart (R, 2), Ryan Tepera (R, N/A), Keegan Thompson (R, 3), Rowan Wick (R, 1), Brad Wieck (L, 1), Trevor Williams (R, 3), Dan Winkler (R, N/A), Brandon Workman (R)
Miguel Amaya (2), Willson Contreras (2), Austin Romine
Javier Baez (N/A), David Bote (2), Kris Bryant (N/A), Nico Hoerner (3), Christopher Morel (3), Anthony Rizzo (N/A), Ildemaro Vargas
Ian Happ (2), Jason Heyward (N/A), Jake Marisnick (N/A), Joc Pederson (N/A)
NON-ROSTER INVITEES (10)
Rex Brothers (L), Trevor Megill (R), Shelby Miller (R), Adam Morgan (L), Pedro Strop (R),
Matt Duffy, Eric Sogard
Cameron Maybin, Rafael Ortega
*DJ Snelten was initially a non-roster invitee pitcher, however confirmed as much as camp with an elbow damage and was sent home.
*Sergio Alcantara was a non-roster invitee infielder after being outrighted to AAA Iowa, however by no means has been in camp due to visa points. He should still technically be on the spring roster, however he’s by no means been bodily current, and the Cubs don’t appear to be counting him within the reviews.
*Except for RHP Trevor Megill, all the NRIs remaining in camp have prior MLB expertise. There are particular guidelines for gamers signed to a minor league deal that had been declared Article XX-B free brokers after the earlier World Series. These gamers had been on a 40-man roster, had 6 extra years of MLB service time, and had been in any other case unsigned for 2021. For the Cubs, IF Eric Sogard and OF Cameron Maybin match this description. If these gamers should not added to the 40-man roster, launched, or placed on the 60-day injured checklist by midday japanese time on the fifth day previous to opening day, the gamers mechanically get a $100,000 retention bonus, they usually get an automated proper to decide out of their minor league deal by June 1st in the event that they aren’t added to the lively roster by then. The deadline is that this Saturday, March twenty seventh. Though RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Pedro Strop and C Jose Lobaton have greater than 6 years of MLB service time, they aren’t coated by the rule as a result of they weren’t on a MLB 40-man roster when free brokers had been declared this previous November. Along with Sogard, Maybin, Miller and Strop, the one different NRIs that look to have a shot to make the opening day roster are C P.J. Higgins and LHP Rex Brothers. Generally NRIs have negotiated a contractual decide out if they aren’t added to the 40-man roster by the top of spring coaching. It’s unknown whether or not the NRIs have such a provision of their contracts, and the reply to that query is finally essential in predicting the roster.
OPENING DAY OUTLOOK AND JOBS
As with most golf equipment, the final word reply to the opening day roster questions is determined by whether or not the membership decides to take 13 or 14 pitchers, which would depart the membership with 5 or 4 bench jobs, respectively.
*Rotation: Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, Jake Arrieta and Trevor Williams are locks. The ultimate rotation job is a contest between Alec Mills, who’s out of choices, and Adbert Alzolay, who has additionally exhausted 3 choices, however may be eligible for a 4th choice. This isn’t an actual roster competitors. If Alzolay wins the rotation job, Mills will probably be within the bullpen. If Mills wins the rotation job, Alzolay will probably be within the bullpen whether it is dominated that he doesn’t get a 4th choice. The membership received’t expose Alzolay to waivers. If he does get a 4th choice, he may be optioned to maintain him stretched out, however my guess is that he sticks on the opening day roster, regardless. The Cubs would possibly use him as a piggyback choice or as a sixth starter in some unspecified time in the future, and he could be good for the Cubs to have as a result of the remainder of the rotation members are delicate tossers, and Alzolay really throws arduous.
*Bullpen: 5 jobs go to Andrew Chafin (lefty), Craig Kimbrel (nearer), Ryan Tepera, Dan Winkler and Brandon Workman proper off the kick as a result of they’ve main league offers, can’t be optioned, and haven’t utterly spiked themselves in spring. Dillon Maples has struggled within the majors thus far, however he has expertise, can also be out of choices, and has pitched effectively sufficient within the spring to maintain a job. That’s the sixth job. Whoever loses out on the competitors for the fifth starter’s job between Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay could have one other bullpen job. That’s job #7. They’re going to want one other left-hander, and proper now NRI Rex Brothers has been killing it in camp, and a few observers imagine that he could also be the most effective lefty the Cubs have accessible to make use of within the pen. That will imply that lefty Brad Wieck would get optioned, and the Cubs should DFA a participant so as to add Brothers. That’s job #8. Usually, Rowan Wick would have been a lock for a job, however he has an intercostal pressure, hasn’t pitched all spring, and can open the season on a minimum of the 10-day IL. If the Cubs take a 14th pitcher, it will likely be between Jason Adam and Jonathan Holder for the ultimate right-handed pitching job. This might be all resolved if Mills is the fifth starter, Alzolay get a 4th choice and the membership decides to ship him out, AND the membership decides to go together with solely 13 pitchers.
The wild card is Shelby Miller. He’s not anticipated to win a rotation job. However the membership has stated that it’ll want lengthy aid and that even when somebody doesn’t technically open the season within the rotation, pitchers apart from the preliminary beginning 5 will make common season begins. Whereas Miller has pitched effectively within the spring, he opted out final 12 months, and has a major damage historical past. One would suppose a membership would desire a pitcher like that to have an everyday schedule, which isn’t all the time potential as a bullpen member. It’s additionally unknown if Miller has a contractual decide out, and one other issue is that the AAA season has been delayed. Pedro Strop, one other NRI and former long-time Cub, could have value himself a bullpen job by violating COVID-19 protocols throughout spring. Whereas he solely misplaced a handful of days, he didn’t make his spring debut till this previous Saturday, and possibly received’t make the opening day roster on the grounds that he hasn’t had sufficient outings.
*Though Austin Romine had the job to again Willson Contreras up at catcher wrapped up, he sprained his knee. It wasn’t initially assumed to be severe, however he hasn’t performed since March sixth, and it seems to be like he’ll open the season on the 10-day IL. The membership had veteran Jose Lobaton as a camp NRI, however he has simply been re-assigned to minor league camp, and it seems to be like P.J. Higgins, an organizational soldier, who will flip 28 years previous in Could, will get the nod. He has additionally performed 1B, 2B and 3B within the minors. With the Cubs’ 40-man roster at 39, a roster spot is freely accessible.
*Second base: That is has been the main place participant competitors in spring, a battle between David Bote, Nico Hoerner and Ildemaro Vargas. A primary-round draft selection in 2018 as a shortstop, Hoerner has been rushed. He skipped the AAA stage and was pressed into service on the main league roster late in 2019 after the Cubs suffered some accidents. His glove is taken into account to be main league prepared, however the membership shouldn’t be satisfied that his bat is. Bote is taken into account the stronger offensive choice, and also can play third, however most likely not a severe choice to play shortstop in apart from an emergency. Lurking within the background is switch-hitting Ildemaro Vargas, who’s on the 40-man roster, is out of choices, and may play everywhere in the infield. This competitors can also be affected by the selection of the dimensions of the bench. Hoerner and Bote each have minor league choices. Vargas is a severe DFA candidate. Not solely is he out of choices, however he’s by no means actually hit within the majors. If Hoerner wins the job, Bote will certainly stick round due to his bat. He’s not a stud offensively, however out of all of the choices, he’s the one one accessible with any actual energy potential.
The opposite complication with Vargas is that NRI Eric Sogard is in severe consideration to win a backup infield job. He doesn’t change hit, however is a left-handed complement to Bote and Hoerner. Sogard didn’t hit final 12 months with the Brewers, however slashed .290/.353/.457 in his final full season, and may play all of the infield positions. The selection on Sogard should be made by this Saturday, as I defined above. I don’t count on Vargas to be on the 40-man roster for much longer.
Apart from 2nd base, the infield is about with Anthony Rizzo at first, Jay Baez at quick and Kris Bryant at third. Bryant would possibly often get a while in left in opposition to a tricky left-hander.
*Outfield: This additionally appears fairly set. Jason Heyward is in proper and Ian Happ will patrol heart. The membership appears dedicated to letting Joc Pederson begin day by day in left subject, though he has struggled mightily in opposition to lefties previously. The membership exemplified this dedication by jettisoning Phillip Ervin, who may have served as Pederson’s platoon accomplice, in favor of signing Jake Marisnick, who’s mainly a backup heart fielder that doesn’t hit a lot. Marisnick has been slowed by a calf subject this spring, however will make the membership as a defensive substitute. The membership might need room to hold Cameron Maybin as a fifth outfielder, relying on the state of affairs. That can even must be determined by Saturday.
*Finally the bench seems to be prefer it may be Higgins, Bote, Sogard, and Marisnick if the membership takes 14 pitchers and Hoerner will get the 2nd base job. I don’t see Vargas making the membership even when Hoerner is optioned to begin the season, as a result of he’s mainly a worse model of Sogard. I feel in that case Maybin would get the 4th bench job, and if there’s a fifth bench job, it’s most likely Maybin’s as effectively. After including Higgins to the 40-man as a backup catcher, the membership should make a minimum of two 40-man roster trims so as to add Brothers to the bullpen and Sogard to the bench. A 3rd trim should be made if the membership decides to hold Maybin. Vargas is nearly actually out. I’m undecided about Rowan Wick’s timetable to return, however he’s the one potential 60-day IL transfer I do know of that the Cubs have of their again pocket, and I’m undecided they’re ready to decide to leaving him off the lively roster for the primary 60 days of the season. If not, meaning a minimum of one, and possibly two pitchers are vulnerable to being DFAd. Kohl Stewart would most likely be the primary candidate to get axed.