Projecting the Chicago Cubs opening-day roster: Who will claim the remaining spots?

In two weeks the Chicago Cubs will line up along the third-base line for opening-day introductions at Wrigley Field.

Although a majority of their opening-day roster spots are locked in, barring any injuries before the team departs Arizona on March 28, the Cubs will soon begin deliberating on how best to build their team to open the year.

And with that in mind, here’s a projection of the opening-day roster:

Starting pitchers (5)

RHP Marcus Stroman
RHP Jameson Taillon
LHP Justin Steele
LHP Drew Smyly
RHP Hayden Wesneski

Also in consideration: RHP Adrian Sampson, RHP Javier Assad.

Wesneski’s results are starting to speak for themselves. Yes, it’s spring training and his shutdown performance through three Cactus League starts — no earned runs in 8⅔ innings — comes in an environment where numbers can be tough to gauge. But his stuff has been nasty and at this point he should be considered the front-runner to be the No. 5 starter.

If Sampson is the odd man out, the Cubs must weigh whether to designate him for assignment to use his 40-man roster spot on a non-roster invitee — should they need to add someone to the active roster — or keep him as an optionable player who could be used in the rotation or bullpen if injuries arise.

Assad’s uptick in velocity via an offseason throwing program while maintaining his command was one of the Cubs’ best developments coming into camp. His electric three scoreless innings in Team Mexico’s win against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic showed how well his stuff can play even when his fastball hits 95-97 mph.

Relievers (8)

RHP Brad Boxberger
RHP Michael Fulmer
RHP Keegan Thompson
RHP Adbert Alzolay
LHP Brandon Hughes
RHP Michael Rucker
RHP Julian Merryweather
RHP Rowan Wick

Also in consideration: RHP Mark Leiter Jr., RHP Cam Sanders, RHP Jeremiah Estrada, RHP Tyler Duffey.

The Cubs face tough decisions constructing their bullpen, in part because of the number of relievers who don’t have minor-league options remaining. Those limitations could help Merryweather and Alzolay land on the roster.

Leiter has a March 30 opt-out in his minor-league deal, a source told the Tribune, which would allow him to go elsewhere if the Cubs don’t put him on the roster. The opt-out clause isn’t enough to guarantee he will be in the opening-day bullpen. With two weeks to go, injuries could pop up that solve who secures the uncertain two or three openings.

Rucker’s camp performance has impressed the team. He and Wick still have minor-league options.

Catchers (2)

Yan Gomes
Tucker Barnhart

The veteran catchers are expected to split starting duties, while prospect Miguel Amaya might get a look sometime in the second half of the season as the Cubs try to evaluate his big-league potential during his final minor-league option year.

Infielders (8)

1B/DH Eric Hosmer
1B/DH/OF Trey Mancini
2B Nico Hoerner
SS Dansby Swanson
3B/OF Patrick Wisdom
IF Nick Madrigal
IF Edwin Ríos
IF Zach McKinstry

In consideration: Christopher Morel.

Mancini and Wisdom are expected to factor into the corner outfield options, predominantly in right field with Seiya Suzuki starting the season on the injured list. Manager David Ross will have …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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