The Chicago Cubs won the World Series just over a month ago, December has just started and their roster for the 2017 season is pretty much already set. Baring an injury or a surprise trade, I believe Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe
Maddon pretty much already know which 25 men will make the opening day roster.
The Cubs said goodbye to one of their starting pitchers from 2016, Jason Hammel will not be returning in 2017. The odds on favorite to take his place is a pitcher who recorded the final out in the World Series, one who was acquired via trade in July. Mike Montgomery will slide into the fifth spot in the rotation, behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. Of course, there could well be a surprise in Spring Training and someone beats him out for that fifth spot, but I think I am safe in saying those will be your five starters.
Reports have been circulating that the Cubs will carry eight pitchers in their bullpen.
Cubs plan to carry 8 bullpen guys during 2017 season.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) December 7, 2016
With Davis as the Cubs closer, along side Ueharra, the Cubs will also have Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Justin Grimm, Brian Duensing and Rule five pick Caleb Smith (who must be on the roster all season or he must be returned). A fun stat about this year’s pitching staff, if these eight men do in fact make the team, the Cubs will have three of the last four men to record the final out in the World Series. Much like with the starting rotation, while these eight men look like locks there could always be a surprise in the mix. Someone could come out of nowhere and take one of these spots away.
Those are the 13 pitchers I predict will be breaking camp with the Cubs. That leaves 12 men to fill out the Cubs 25 man roster.
Obviously, there will be two catchers on the roster. Miguel Montero will be backing up Willson Contreras. Now, there is a chance that Montero gets traded, but with the retirement of David Ross, the Cubs might feel as though they need his clubhouse leadership.
That brings us down to 10 more players.
With the departure of Dexter Fowler, and the addition of Jon Jay the position players are also set. Of course you have Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Jay are locks.
That brings us down to one.
This is where we could well be surprised and see the Cubs make one final addition, if not then spot 25 comes down to either Tommy La Stella or Matt Szczur. With Bryant and Zobrist able to play the outfield the Cubs could do without Szczur. However, with Baez able to play all over the infield, they could also do without La Stella. If fans had their choice, they would likely choose Szczur though I think Maddon likes La Stella more. He might choose to go with the extra infielder rather than the extra outfielder taking the advantages Bryant and Zobrist offer.
Then again… spot 25 could also be a surprise non roster invitee.