The Cubs’ 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players. Soon, many of us hope that 40th spot will be taken by Yu Darvish. (You didn’t think I’d let this entire article go without a Darvish mention, did you?)
While we wait for Darvish, I thought I’d have a look at how each current member of the 40-man was acquired.
Dario Alvarez: signed as free agent November 29, 2017
Adbert Alzolay: signed as international free agent March 8, 2013
Eddie Butler: acquired in trade for James Farris February 1, 2017
Tyler Chatwood: signed as free agent December 7, 2017
Steve Cishek: signed as free agent December 16, 2017
Oscar De La Cruz: signed as international free agent July 2, 2012
Brian Duensing: signed as free agent January 22, 2018
Carl Edwards Jr.: acquired in trade for Matt Garza July 22, 2013
Luke Farrell: claimed on waivers October 4, 2017
Justin Grimm: acquired in trade for Matt Garza July 22, 2013
Kyle Hendricks: acquired in trade for Ryan Dempster July 31, 2012
Jon Lester: signed as free agent December 15, 2014
Dillon Maples: selected in 14th round of draft June 7, 2011
Cory Mazzoni: claimed on waivers November 6, 2017
Alec Mills: acquired in trade for Donnie Dewees February 8, 2017
Mike Montgomery: acquired in trade for Daniel Vogelbach July 20, 2016
Brandon Morrow: signed as free agent December 12, 2017
Jose Quintana: acquired in trade for Eloy Jimenez (and others) July 13, 2017
Randy Rosario: claimed on waivers November 3, 2017
Drew Smyly: signed as free agent December 12, 2017
Pedro Strop: acquired in trade for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger July 2, 2013
Jen-Ho Tseng: signed as international free agent July 25, 2013
Duane Underwood Jr.: selected in second round of draft June 4, 2012
Justin Wilson: acquired in trade for Jeimer Candelario July 31, 2017
Rob Zastryzny: selected in second round of draft June 6, 2013
Willson Contreras: signed as international free agent July 2, 2009
Victor Caratini: acquired in trade for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio July 31, 2014
Javier Baez: selected in first round of draft June 6, 2011
David Bote: selected in 18th round of draft June 5, 2012
Kris Bryant: selected in first round of draft June 6, 2013
Tommy La Stella: acquired in trade for Arodys Vizcaino November 16, 2014
Anthony Rizzo: acquired in trade for Andrew Cashner January 6, 2012
Addison Russell: acquired in trade for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel July 5, 2014
Ben Zobrist: signed as free agent December 8, 2015
Albert Almora Jr.: selected in first round of draft June 4, 2012
Ian Happ: selected in first round of draft June 8, 2015
Jason Heyward: signed as free agent December 15, 2015
Kyle Schwarber: selected in first round of draft June 5, 2014
Mark Zagunis: selected in third round of draft June 6, 2014
Let’s break this down in a number of different ways.
Free agent: 9
International free agent: 4
It should be noted that five straight first-round picks (Baez, Almora, Bryant, Schwarber and Happ) are not only on the roster, but all are significant contributors and even star players. That’s an incredibly good run by this front office.
Further, the Cubs have six other first-round picks now on the roster: Butler, Heyward, Montgomery, Morrow, Russell and Smyly).
It’s pretty obvious, though, in looking at the positional breakdown, that this front office has focused on position players through the draft and acquiring pitching in other ways. Just three pitchers drafted by the Cubs (Maples, Underwood and Zastryzny) are on the 40-man roster. The Cubs have had the fewest MLB innings pitched by pitchers they drafted since 2012 — just 30 total innings (29 by Zastryzy and one by Pierce Johnson). The FO focused on pitching in the 2017 draft and I assume they’ll do so again this year. Interestingly, unlike previous years where the Cubs ran a number of pitchers in and out of waivers over the winter, the three pitchers signed off waivers since the 2017 season ended (Farrell, Mazzoni and Rosario) have remained on the roster all winter.
Meanwhile, of the 15 position players on the roster, eight have never played for another organization.
The team has also done well in trades, acquiring Rizzo, Russell, Grimm, Hendricks, Montgomery, Quintana, Strop, La Stella and Edwards (and others), all of whom have made major contributions to the team. The Cubs still have hope that Wilson will do that, too.
Lastly, there are still three players on the 40-man roster who were signed or drafted by the Cubs pre-Theo Epstein: Baez, Contreras and Maples. Two of them are already important players for this team and Maples might wind up being one as well.