Who will claim the remaining spots? – News from Mercury


In two weeks, the Chicago Cubs will line up along the third base line for their opening day performances at Wrigley Field.

While most of their opening day berths are secure, barring any injuries before the team departs Arizona on March 28, the Cubs will soon begin deliberating on how best to build their roster to open the year.

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

Starting pitchers (5)

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

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

Wesneski’s results are starting to speak for themselves. Yep, it’s spring training and his three-game shutout performance in the Cactus League — no earned runs in 8⅔ innings — comes in an environment where numbers can be hard to gauge. But his stuff has been nasty and, at this point, he should be considered the favorite to be the 5th starter.

If Sampson is the outsider, the Cubs must weigh whether to designate him to the assignment to use their 40-man roster on an unlisted guest – should they need to add someone to the active roster – or keep him as an optional player who could be used. in rotation or bullpen if injuries arise.

Assad’s increase in speed through an offseason pitching program while maintaining his command was one of the Cubs’ best developments at camp. His three scoreless electric innings in Team Mexico’s victory over Team USA in the World Baseball Classic showed how well his stuff can play even when his fastball hits 95-97 mph.

Relievers (8)

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

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

The Cubs face tough decisions building their bullpen, in part because of the number of relievers who have no options left in the minor leagues. These limitations could help Merryweather and Alzolay make the roster.

Leiter opted out March 30 on his minor league contract, a source tells the Tribune, which would allow him to go elsewhere if the Cubs didn’t roster him. The exclusion clause is not enough to guarantee he will be in the day one bullpen. With two weeks to go, injuries may arise that decide who guarantees the uncertain two or three spots.

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

Catchers (2)

  • Yan Gomes
  • Tucker Barnhart

Veteran catchers are expected to share the starting duties, while prospect Miguel Amaya could look around sometime in the second half of the season as the Cubs try to assess their major league potential during their final minor league option year.

Field players (8)

  • 1B/DH Eric Hosmer
  • 1B/DH/OF Trey Mancini
  • 2B Nico Hoerner
  • SS Dansby Swanson
  • 3B/OF Patrick Wisdom
  • SE Nick Madrigal
  • HE Edwin Rios
  • SE Zach McKinstry

In consideration: Christopher Morel.

Both Mancini and Wisdom are expected to consider outfield options, predominantly in right field, with Seiya Suzuki starting the season on the injured list. Coach David Ross will have plenty of mix and match options in the inside corner positions.

Morel, 23, is coming off an unexpected rookie season, jumping from Double-A Tennessee to the Cubs. His defensive versatility and advantage are attractive, but he needs daily attacks. While the Cubs were able to find enough playing time for him last year, using him at second base, third base and center field, those opportunities don’t exist now.

Morel is better off playing regularly at Triple-A Iowa, where he can focus on lowering his strikeout rate and developing more defensive consistency.

Outfielders (3)

  • LF Ian Happ
  • CF Cody Bellinger
  • BY Mike Tauchman

In consideration: Nelson Velasquez.

Happ and Bellinger are locked in the daily lineup, leaving right field a likely turning point as long as Suzuki is sidelined by his left oblique strain. Tauchman, an uncast guest, has seemingly solidified his opening-list status. He can play in all three outfield spots and gives the Cubs another left-handed bat.

Mancini and Wisdom can also play in right field. Tauchman can change to accommodate Happ or Bellinger taking a day off. The Lone Wrinkle: Would the Cubs be comfortable carrying just three true outfielders on the 26-man roster? If they want a fourth outfielder, Velásquez, already on the 40-man roster, can play all three positions.

But like Morel, Velásquez would benefit from regular playing time. The best way to do that is in Triple A.


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