For most of 2016, the Cubs carried the following on their 25-man (pre-September) roster:
13 pitchers (five starters, eight relievers)
The count above was made possible by Joe Maddon’s use of Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras as outfielders, with Javier Baez filling in all over the infield.
It seems, given the recent news about labor negotiations, that major-league pre-September rosters will be expanded to 26 players.
Personally, I hope this doesn’t push teams to immediately put a ninth reliever in the bullpen. All this would do is drag out games even longer than they already are as managers would likely add relievers who would help them get the platoon advantage over and over and over...
There’s some use to this concept, but I think it’s overdone.
The Cubs aren’t likely to be carrying three catchers again in 2017. With the retirement of David Ross, Contreras is likely going to get the bulk of the catching work next year with Miguel Montero backing him up. It’s not yet clear whether Kyle Schwarber can return to catching, but if his surgically-repaired knee can hold up, I’d imagine he’d be considered a “third catcher,” even though that might not mean starting more than a handful of games. Primarily, Schwarber is going to be an outfielder.
This would leave some flexibility for the team to add an infielder or outfielder, instead of a ninth relief pitcher. Sure, it was fun watching Travis Wood play the outfield on several occasions in 2016, but he’s probably not coming back next year and wouldn’t you rather see an extra actual outfielder available for Maddon to use?
That would be my choice. I’d stick with 13 pitchers (honestly, I’d probably go with 12, but 13 seems to be the choice of most teams these days), and have 13 position players. For the 2017 Cubs, that’d be two full-time catchers and room for 11 others. So you could go with six infielders and five outfielders, or five infielders and six outfielders, or given Maddon’s desire to have versatile players, the Cubs could go with extra multi-position players, in the mold of what Zobrist did for the team in 2016.
How would you arrange a 26-man roster for the 2017 Cubs?