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A Very Early Look At The 2017 Cubs’ Opening Day Roster

There won’t be much competition for 25-man spots during spring training.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the deals the Cubs made during the past week, as well as Dexter Fowler leaving for the Cardinals, the Cubs’ 25-man Opening Day roster is likely pretty well set.

That seems counterintuitive, given that there are 114 days until Opening Night in St. Louis, spring training still to come, and perhaps more trades and/or signings ahead. The Cubs will surely invite 20 or so players to spring training on non-roster deals. Some of those players are minor leaguers already in the organization who could be getting a look for future years, but the team always brings in some guys from the outside. Many of those players will wind up playing 2017 at Triple-A Iowa as injury replacements.

Nevertheless, here’s how I see the 25 that will line up along the baseline at Busch Stadium April 2.

Catchers (2)

Willson Contreras
Miguel Montero

Infielders (5)

Javier Baez
Kris Bryant
Anthony Rizzo
Addison Russell
Ben Zobrist

Outfielders (5)

Albert Almora Jr.
Jason Heyward
Jon Jay
Kyle Schwarber
Matt Szczur

Pitchers (13)

Jake Arrieta
Wade Davis
Brian Duensing
Carl Edwards Jr.
Justin Grimm
Kyle Hendricks
John Lackey
Jon Lester
Mike Montgomery
Hector Rondon
Caleb Smith
Pedro Strop
Rob Zastryzny

The only potential changes I see to that might be someone else in place of Smith or Zastryzny, or perhaps replacing one of those with a position player and going with seven relievers, though the Cubs went with eight pretty much all of 2016. It’s possible Smith doesn’t cut it during spring training and the Cubs either return him to the Yankees or make a deal with them so they can send him to Iowa.

The recent reported signing of Koji Uehara means, most likely, one of Smith or Zastrzyny doesn’t make the roster. Or perhaps someone else gets traded.

Of the position players, Baez, Bryant, Contreras, Schwarber and Zobrist can all play multiple positions (for the sake of argument, let’s say that Schwarber could be a “third catcher,” at least until he’s ruled out of playing behind the plate), so that does make a 12-position-player roster more versatile.

This list of 25 players doesn’t really leave any room for any non-roster guys to make the team out of spring training unless there are injuries, which of course we hope there aren’t any.

If this is the group that opens the season for the Cubs, that will make four players who were not in the organization at all in 2016 (Davis, Duensing, Jay and Smith).

You might see this somewhat differently, so feel free to weigh in.