We are one week away from September 1, when major-league rosters can be expanded to include the full 40-man list. In practice, most teams don’t add more than seven or eight players, because there simply isn’t enough playing time for that many.
There are arguments being made that this practice should be changed. It started decades ago so teams could get a close look at minor leaguers they hadn’t seen all year. Obviously that’s not needed now, and there could be changes in the future.
But for now, we’ll see more players available on benches and in bullpens starting a week from now. Who will the Cubs add?
I say “add,” because the team currently has several players on the disabled list who have been replaced, temporarily, by guys who might have been “September callups.” So, those “callups” will likely stay, and the roster additions will probably come from among the DL guys.
This means the activation of Hector Rondon, John Lackey, Joe Smith and Chris Coghlan. Smith and Coghlan are eligible as of September 1; Rondon will have to wait a couple of days after that. Lackey is eligible as of August 30, since his DL stint was backdated to the day after his last start, and at that point Felix Pena or Spencer Patton could be optioned back to Iowa. Whether Pena or Patton return after 9/1 is likely dependent on whether the FO thinks they need an extra righty after the returns of Rondon and Smith.
Pedro Strop will also return at some point in September, though the 4-to-6 week timeframe for recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery he had after injuring his knee August 10 puts his return closer to the last week of the regular season.
Tommy La Stella, who finally reported to the minor leagues after a two-and-a-half week odyssey back home to New Jersey, is likely also going to be recalled September 1. TLS has been hitting well in his journey through Tennessee and Iowa and will be helpful off the bench.
Three other players on the 40-man roster who have already played at the big-league level this year could return in September: Munenori Kawasaki, Jeimer Candelario and Albert Almora Jr., though with the addition of TLS, playing time for Mune and Jeimer might not be available. Almora is currently injured (hand), so the Cubs might play it safe with him.
If all those players are added, that would be nine additions to the current roster, and eases the roster crunch that (in part) caused Smith to be placed on the DL in the first place. Lefthander Rob Zastryzny could be a useful part through September.
If the Cubs decide they need to make a last-minute addition from outside the organization, the 40-man roster currently has one open spot.
Those are my thoughts on next week’s roster additions. Do you have any others?