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Cubs Return Caleb Smith To Yankees

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The roster is nearly at its Opening Day size.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Lefthander Caleb Smith looks sad in that Media Day photo above, but it’s probably not because this happened:

I’m pretty sure the Cubs wanted to keep Smith, but there was no room for him on the 25-man roster and it’s apparent the Cubs couldn’t work out any sort of trade in order to keep him at Triple-A Iowa. Smith pitched in five spring games for the Cubs covering 6⅓ innings. He allowed eight hits and a walk (1.42 WHIP) and struck out seven, giving up three earned runs for a 4.26 ERA.

The last roster spot will (as we have speculated for weeks) come down to a choice between Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella. There’s one other non-roster guy who hasn’t yet been cut, Carlos Corporan, and he’s likely headed to Iowa to be this year’s version of Tim Federowicz. I’d expect Corporan will accompany the team to Houston to give Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero a break there, then he’ll be reassigned. Also, it’ll be a homecoming for Corporan as he played for the Astros from 2011-15.

The return of Smith to the Yankees means, apparently, that Brian Duensing has made the bullpen, and that the Cubs will carry eight relievers (13 pitchers overall) going into the season. The other seven: Wade Davis, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Koji Uehara, Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery.

Unless, that is, one of those other seven has an injury that would mean starting the season on the disabled list. If that happens, the Cubs could keep both Szczur and La Stella for a while. With three off days in the season’s first two weeks, finding enough work for eight relievers might not be easy.

As always, we await developments.