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Outside the Cubs Boxcar plays chicken, part 6

In which we add a pitcher and a catcher and do some farming

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All in one basket
Photo by Nicolas Axelrod/Getty Images

Mike Minor has been signed to a deal with the Rangers, and is no longer a subject for this exercise. Ian Krol, Jake McGee, and Brandon Morrow are still available. We’re going to let them languish on the wire for just a little bit longer and continue through the alphabet, with N, O, P, Q, and R being under consideration in this installment and S, T, U, W, X, Y, and Z in the next, after which we’ll do a final roster tweak and start talking about money, finishing up as the Winter Meetings start, five days from now.

Here’s the Free Agent Tracker, so you can follow along, and previous installments 1. 2. 3. 4. 5., so you can read or re-read and follow the “logic”.

This is the Cubs’ 40-man as it stands (although Alcantara and Amarista are on minor-league deals and are fungible, they’re occupying two spots for the nonce).

  1. Arismendy Alcantara
  2. Albert Almora Jr.
  3. Dario Alvarez
  4. Alexi Amarista
  5. Jake Arrieta
  6. Javier Baez
  7. Kris Bryant
  8. Eddie Butler
  9. Trevor Cahill
  10. Victor Caratini
  11. Alex Cobb
  12. Willson Contreras
  13. Wade Davis
  14. Carl Edwards Jr.
  15. Luke Farrell
  16. Justin Grimm
  17. Deolis Guerra
  18. Jacob Hannemann
  19. Ian Happ
  20. Kyle Hendricks
  21. Jason Heyward
  22. Tommy La Stella
  23. Jon Lester
  24. Dillon Maples
  25. Cory Mazzoni
  26. Alec Mills
  27. Mike Montgomery
  28. Jose Quintana
  29. Anthony Rizzo
  30. Randy Rosario
  31. Addison Russell
  32. Kyle Schwarber
  33. Pedro Strop
  34. Jen-Ho Tseng
  35. Duane Underwood Jr.
  36. Justin Wilson
  37. Mark Zagunis
  38. Rob Zastryzny
  39. Ben Zobrist

The catching position is still in not-very-good shape, needing a (preferably left-handed) MLB backup. I passed on Alex Avila as the first installment was done before his comments about being willing to be a backup. Given the tone of those remarks, we’ll put Alex in queue with Krol, McGee, and Morrow and revisit next week. Right now, Victor Caratini is the backup, and I’m not real comfortable with that. If Kyle Schwarber had any defensive capability, I’d consider him, but it looks like his catching days are over.

The bullpen still needs work. This is what we have right now, with some arms already scheduled for Triple A, and others probably destined to join them or to be traded/released, depending on how things pan out. I’d be surprised if Rob Z and D. Underwood make the 25-man roster, and I’d trade Grimm in an instant.

Long relief/utility

  1. Trevor Cahill
  2. Mike Montgomery (L)

Middle relief:

  1. Justin Grimm
  2. Rob Zastryzny (L)
  3. Dillon Maples
  4. Dario Alvarez (L)


  1. Pedro Strop
  2. Justin Wilson (L)
  3. Carl Edwards Jr


  1. Wade Davis

Soooo, all that said, let’s look at some candidates from our quintet of letters. I could see Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio, Martin Perez (L), and Addison Reed in Cubbie blue. That gives us seven arms to consider. None of them walk a heckuva lot of batters, all have good MLB experience. The right-handers have versatility and could fill spots from middle to late relief. Perez would compete with Montgomery, Cahill, and maybe Tseng for the utility spot(s).

I really like Addison Reed. He seems to be improving as he ages, and that 6.8 lifetime WAR with 2.4 coming last year and 1.183 lifetime WHIP speak to me. His price tag is going to be in the 3/24-5 million range, which is not beyond what some others in this category would command. Let’s do it, and send Underwood down.

And I’m gonna skip ahead a bit and sign switch-hitter Hector Sanchez over Rene Rivera and Carlos Ruiz. He wouldn’t take more than a million a year or so to sign and seemingly benefits from the kind of playing time he’d get from the Cubs. If Caratini makes great strides defensively and beats him out, then he could occupy the Triple A bus spot. Alcantara gets sent down.

Here’s the revised roster:

  1. Albert Almora Jr.
  2. Dario Alvarez
  3. Alexi Amarista
  4. Jake Arrieta
  5. Javier Baez
  6. Kris Bryant
  7. Eddie Butler
  8. Trevor Cahill
  9. Victor Caratini
  10. Alex Cobb
  11. Willson Contreras
  12. Wade Davis
  13. Carl Edwards Jr.
  14. Luke Farrell
  15. Justin Grimm
  16. Deolis Guerra
  17. Jacob Hannemann
  18. Ian Happ
  19. Kyle Hendricks
  20. Jason Heyward
  21. Tommy La Stella
  22. Jon Lester
  23. Dillon Maples
  24. Cory Mazzoni
  25. Alec Mills
  26. Mike Montgomery
  27. Jose Quintana
  28. Addison Reed
  29. Anthony Rizzo
  30. Randy Rosario
  31. Addison Russell
  32. Hector Sanchez
  33. Kyle Schwarber
  34. Pedro Strop
  35. Jen-Ho Tseng
  36. Duane Underwood Jr.
  37. Justin Wilson
  38. Mark Zagunis
  39. Rob Zastryzny
  40. Ben Zobrist

The middle of the bullpen lines up thusly:

  1. Addison Reed
  2. Rob Zastryzny (L)
  3. Justin Grimm
  4. Dario Alvarez (L)
  5. Dillon Maples
  6. Duane Underwood Jr

I wouldn’t be averse to replacing Grimm with Strop or Edwards, whichever loses the setup battle.

Part Seven coming Friday. Thanks for reading.