— Randall J. Sanders (@RandallJSanders) July 6, 2015
Not so lucky for pitchers, though I think at least a couple of them deserve consideration. Ah well, the ones they chose don’t suck and it’ll help the Cubs get home-field advantage in the World Series this fall anyway…
NL All-Star starters look strong, should have a good chance to get the Cubs home-field advantage in the World Series.
— Cubs No-Hit Streak (@CubsNoHitStreak) July 6, 2015
In the meantime, with the news that Rafael Soriano is making his way to Tennessee in advance of his opt-out date, we should probably take a look at the Cubs 40-man roster and implications as the trade deadline gets closer. Given the random visa issues and the flexibility the Cubs have shown with Soriano so far I don’t think he’ll exercise the opt-out (especially since he’s just barely in Tennessee with a week to go before the All-Star Break), and it might help them sell a few extra #12 Soriano jerseys if Kyle Schwarber will relinquish the active roster number. Heh.
I’m using the Cubs’ transactions page to track dates that players were put on the disabled list and the 40-man roster to keep track of active roster versus others. This means we’re focused on the NOW, and not the offseason maneuvering when the Cubs have to worry about which Rule 5 eligible player(s) to protect (h/t Stan).
On the disabled list side, Zac Rosscup had been placed on the 15-day list on June 17th, which means he’s eligible to come off sometime soon. The issue with squeezing Soriano into a solid relief corps is that someone will need to go. Tsuyoshi Wada was also placed on the 15-day list on June 28th, and both Rosscup and Wada are lefties. Thankfully, another lefty was picked up in Clayton Richard and he had a splendid debut as a Cub. James Russell remains a surprisingly reliable LOOGY in the pen as well.
If I were a betting man, here are all the pitchers the Cubs should keep on the active roster:
- Jake Arrieta (duh)
- Justin Grimm
- Jason Hammel
- Kyle Hendricks
- Jon Lester
- Jason Motte
- Neil Ramirez
- Hector Rondon
- Pedro Strop
That’s nine of the 12 spots (five starters, seven relievers) that I believe the Cubs should carry. They might just decide to go with another reliever because that’s what they’re doing now, so I’m going to keep it at 13. Of the four other spots, they are currently filled by:
That means one of those four will have to be dumped to make room on the active roster (and the 40-man) for Soriano. I’m going to assume for the time being that the Cubs are happy with Richard and Russell. Due to the heavily right-handed pitching staff I think Jackson might be the odd man out if they decide to DFA, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lottery ticket trade where the Cubs send over his remaining salary in exchange for a random pitching prospect or another bad contract. They could also easily move Rosscup or Wada to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot, but that still leaves one guy who needs to be dumped off the active roster to accommodate Soriano lest they have a 14-man pitching staff, and that’s no fun.
An additional logjam will come up when Mike Olt is done with his rehab assignment. Currently on the 60-day DL, Olt is already swinging the bat in Iowa and makes sense as the bench bat to spell Bryant, Rizzo, or either corner outfield spot when he returns to Chicago (barring a surprise trade). Olt was placed on the DL originally in April due to a hit-by-pitch and is eligible to be reinstated at any time. If the Cubs decide to let him use the entire week to rehab with Iowa they can postpone this decision for almost two weeks. Otherwise, they could probably DFA either Mike Baxter, Jonathan Herrera, or one of the pitchers listed above that Joe Maddon doesn’t trust (ha).
I don’t envy the Cubs’ front office for having to make these not-so-simple decisions, but with the All-Star Break coming up, that will buy them a bit of time.
UPDATE 7/12 12:13 PM: Guess they will try to figure this out more after the break after all:
Maddon says he does not expect Soriano to be ready in time to join team in ATL out of break.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) July 12, 2015
Miguel Montero had a thumb injury, no breaks or anything, but they’re just going to wait and see:
Maddon said if Montero goes on the DL of course Schwarber would be talked about but sounds like it could just be Teagarden/Ross combo
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) July 12, 2015