Carl Edwards Jr.
Tommy La Stella
Albert Almora Jr.
(Note: I am listing Schwarber as a catcher because that’s how the position splits were listed in the Cubs press release noting Monday’s roster cuts. It doesn’t mean I think he’s going to catch much, or at all, this year.)
The Matt Szczur/Tommy La Stella question was discussed yesterday, so let’s look at some of the other players on the bubble.
Jemile Weeks was injured early in camp, but has not yet been listed on any roster cuts announced by the Cubs. When he’s healthy he’ll play at extended spring training and then probably head to Triple-A Iowa.
Chris Dominguez was in camp primarily to spell Rizzo at first base late in spring games. He’s got good power and soft hands at first base, but strikes out way too much to be anything more than a bit player at the MLB level. He’s probably the starting 1B at Iowa.
Munenori Kawasaki is always fun to have around, and he plays good fundamental defense and runs the bases well. As he did last year, he’ll hang around at Iowa and be there in case of infield injuries. I’m sure we’ll see him at some point during the summer.
Carlos Corporan caught over 200 games as a backup for the Astros and Rangers from 2011-15. Last year he played Triple-A ball in the Rays and Marlins system, and he’ll do the same for the Cubs this year, playing the role Tim Federowicz did for the 2016 Cubs.
So that’s four of the six over the 25-man limit. The Szczur/TLS question will resolve the fifth of six.
The sixth player who won’t make the 25-man roster is a pitcher. There are 14 pitchers listed above, all on the 40-man roster, and the Cubs will take at most 13 to St. Louis for Opening Night. Caleb Smith is a Rule 5 choice from the Yankees (via the Brewers). The Cubs like his arm and groundball tendencies, but there might not be room for him to go north. I expect the Cubs to try to make a trade with the Yankees so they can keep Smith at Iowa this year.
The other option would be for Brian Duensing or another pitcher to start the season on the disabled list. Remember that there is now a 10-day DL instead of the traditional 15-day DL. This Fangraphs article explains some of the ways that might be used this year. Truth be told, with three off days over the season’s first two weeks the Cubs could probably get along with only 12 pitchers (five starters, seven relievers), which would buy them a couple of weeks to resolve the Szczur/TLS conundrum. But that then raises the question: which two pitchers do you remove from that list, and how?
What roster moves do you think the Cubs will make before Sunday’s season opener?