Hey hey, if you missed the news, the Chicago Cubs reportedly signed one Yu Darvish, and we talked about the ramifications on the latest Dreamcast. Suffice it to say that we are very excited about this, and that means the roster makeup as we head into spring training has changed for the better. The Darvish signing is not yet official, so there are still just 39 guys on the 40-man roster. There are any number of creative transactional gymnastics that can be done to make room for additional signings if necessary, but I think this is the roster you should expect to head to Miami at the end of March.
Top Four in the Rotation
I did this in alphabetical order because you can reasonably make an argument that any of them could be the Opening Day starter, and depending on off days and the deployment of Mike Montgomery as a spot starter, they could be reshuffled to take advantage of matchups. This is a VERY good problem to have.
Number five starter
Obviously the top four are a level above Chatwood, who isn’t that much of a slouch despite being smacked around on the lunar surface of Colorado. As said above, Montgomery could slot in as an emergency fifth starter or as the occasional sixth starter if someone gets hurt, so suddenly we have depth again. Yay!
Bullpen Locks (8)
These haven’t really changed since the last time we looked at the roster, as the Cubs decided to just get this done early while waiting out Darvish’s market. From before:
And since then, the Cubs have also re-signed Brian Duensing, so that gives us the primary octet that should come out of camp to start the season. If Grimm pitches as well as he should be capable of, that gives us five righties and three lefties, with at least one proven long reliever in Montgomery.
There is a potential taxi-squad in play as the Cubs, despite being fortunate with health in 2017, could take advantage of the 10-day disabled list plus some creative juggling given the inevitable doubleheaders to make up rainouts. There are a couple guys who are out of options including Eddie Butler (who they might try to sneak through waivers to option to Iowa as depth) and Justin Grimm (who I’m guessing the Cubs would prefer to keep, but could also try to sneak down to Iowa given his not-so-small arbitration salary). In addition to Dillon Maples and Rob Zastryzny, the Cubs could also call up Dario Alvarez, one of their many free agent pitcher signings this offseason, as well as Jen-Ho Tseng and Duane Underwood if necessary. I don’t anticipate the Cubs calling up their top pitching prospects in Adbert Alzolay or Oscar de la Cruz unless something disastrous happens, or they get to September, whichever comes first. The depth is certainly there, however, and that has to make you feel good.
With the tentative signing of Yu Darvish, I believe the catching tandem has to be:
Victor Caratini needs playing time in Iowa to develop, and with Drew Smyly still on the mend, that will open up a roster spot for Gimenez assuming he earns the job as Darvish’s personal catcher. Caratini would be welcome depth as the Cubs’ top catching prospect waiting in the wings.
The rest of the position players are pretty much locked in, pending health and performance:
There are some potential fifth outfielder options that the Cubs have on the roster or invited into camp, but this seems like the best team the Cubs can field given their current personnel. Most of the infielders can cover multiple spots, and some, like Bryant and Zobrist, can play in the outfield comfortably. At least three of the four outfielders can play all over the outfield. The Cubs are pretty much covered everywhere.
If you’re feeling good about the Cubs, that’s normal.