Tomorrow, Sunday, is September 1, and the day that active rosters can expand -- all the way to the full 40-man roster, if a team so desires.
Let's stipulate a few things right off the bat. No team activates 15 extra players. There isn't enough playing time for that many active players, and though this might sound silly, teams simply don't want to pay the extra travel expenses, either.
The minor-league season ends Monday; Triple-A Iowa, where most of the callups are likely going to be from (Double-A Tennessee is in the Southern League playoffs), was eliminated from postseason play Friday night, so any players from Iowa could join the Cubs as early as Tuesday.
Or, perhaps earlier, in the case of two players sent to Kane County on rehab assignment:
Expect Sweeney and Valbuena added when rosters expand. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 30, 2013
So, it's possible we could see Luis Valbuena and Ryan Sweeney activated Sunday. Sweeney has been on the 60-day disabled list; Valbuena on the 15-day DL. Thus, Valbuena can simply be activated, but someone has to be removed from the currently-full 40-man roster for Sweeney to be reinstated.
My guess is one of two players will be bid farewell: either Cody Ransom or Dave Sappelt. Sappelt's future with the Cubs seems pretty close to zero, after two bad stints with the team this year; Ransom, at age 37, seems odd-man-out with Valbuena returning and Donnie Murphy on the roster. Murphy and Valbuena can platoon at third base.
Beyond those two, two others currently already on the 40-man roster seem locks to be recalled: Brooks Raley and J.C. Boscan. This will give the Cubs a second lefty in the bullpen (and a look to see if Raley can be a candidate for the 2014 pen), and a third catcher to give the team some flexibility in pinch-running for one of the two current catchers in the late innings.
Some of you have thought that Mike Olt, acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, would be recalled. This quote from Dale Sveum would seem to indicate that might not happen:
Sveum plans to insert Valbuena at third base as soon as he returns to the active roster. "Yeah, he is swinging the bat … he already has five hits in two days," Sveum said. "It's nice to have left-handed bats when you can with matchups. Playing every day, I don't know. This last month will be a lot of evaluation for a lot of things."
If Luis Valbuena is playing most days, there would seem to be no point to recall Olt; if Olt is recalled, it would be with the idea of seeing him almost every day to evaluate the possibility of him winning the third-base job in 2014.
Because the 40-man roster is, as noted, full, any further recalls would have to be of players currently on that roster, unless you think other players are likely to be removed. In order to activate Scott Baker, who has made seven mostly not-good rehab starts, a pitcher would have to be removed from the 40-man. Who would you let go? Trey McNutt?
Of pitchers on the 40-man besides Raley, Eduardo Sanchez could get another recall; he barely pitched while active in July, but I'd think the brass would like to have another look. Alberto Cabrera, who might also fit in the 2014 bullpen, could get a recall after a pretty good year starting at Tennessee (he wasn't so good in 15 relief appearances for Iowa, though).
There truly aren't that many other options for recall, and no one at true "prospect" level is going to see Wrigley Field this September.
That makes my list, as of this writing, five players: Valbuena, Sweeney, Raley, Boscan and Sanchez. There could be one or two others, but I doubt more than that.
Who's on your list, beyond those players? Leave your thoughts in the comments.