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Cubs Option Junior Lake, Zac Rosscup And Brian Schlitter To Iowa

Three candidates remain for the final two roster spots.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs announced three moves today, sending OF Junior Lake, LHP Zac Rosscup and RHP Brian Schlitter down to Triple-A Iowa.

Rosscup has played parts of the past two seasons with the Cubs with mixed success. Rosscup's fate was likely sealed when the Cubs selected the contract of Phil Coke, whom Rosscup was competing for a job as a left-hander out of the bullpen. But overall Rosscup had a good spring (3 earned runs in nine inning. 12 strikeouts to 3 walks) and is likely to be one of the first pitchers called back to Chicago when bullpen vacancies arise.

Schlitter will take his hair and beard back down to Iowa, where presumably he'll be available for bullpen duty and community theater productions of Jesus Christ Superstar. Schlitter was a mainstay of the Cubs bullpen last summer, throwing 56.1 innings with a 4.15 ERA. But Schlitter had a lousy spring and was simply beaten out for a bullpen spot by other pitchers. It didn't help matters for Schlitter that it looks like Edwin Jackson and his massive contract will be in the bullpen on Opening Day. So much to the delight of play-by-play announcers around the National League, Schlitter will start the season in Iowa.

Junior Lake actually had a pretty decent spring, hitting .300/.356/.425 as he works on a new approach at the plate. But competing for a backup outfielder job with Ryan Sweeney and Matt Sczcur, Lake simply wouldn't get the ABs he needs at the major league level to work on improving his horrific strikeout and walk ratios from last summer. He also does not provide the defensive value that Szczur does. So Lake will get his regular at-bats in the Pacific Coast League to start the spring where he'll join an impressive group of hitters looking to provide mid-season reinforcements for the major league club.

Carrie Muskat explains what the final roster decision is for the Cubs

Sweeney has a contract that the Cubs would have to eat if they released him, but he bats left-handed (bad platoon partner for Chris Coghlan) and does not provide the defensive value that Szczur does. Szczur has had a great spring, but still has one option left, so they could send him down to Iowa and not lose anything. Herrera is a minor-league invite who has had a very strong spring. Keeping him would free up Arismendy Alcantara to play more outfield, at least until April 20 when presumably Kris Bryant will be promoted.

In a minor matter, Andrew McKirahan, a Marlins Rule 5 pick taken from the Cubs last December, was claimed by the Braves. The Marlins had placed him on waivers, but Atlanta stepped in and claimed him before he could be returned to the Cubs. The Braves, like the Marlins, will need to keep McKirahan on the major league roster all season or place him on waivers to return him to the Cubs.