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A way-too-early look at the Cubs’ 2019 Opening Day roster

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It’s December. The Winter Meetings are next week. So why not?

Four players who will definitely be on the Opening Day 2019 roster
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Before I even begin this exercise, I admit it’s far too early to say “This will be the Opening Day roster for the Cubs.” Opening Day is 114 days away; heck, it’s still 81 days until the Cubs take the field against the Brewers in Mesa for their first 2019 spring training game.

But we’re heading into the dead of winter and so I thought it would at least be interesting to discuss what might be the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

Last February, I wrote that the Cubs’ 25-man roster was set not only for 2018, but for 2019 as well, because of players under multi-year contracts and those under team control. At the time, the only player set to become a free agent after 2018 was Justin Wilson.

Obviously, quite a few things changed between then and now. The Cubs churned through some useful relievers who became free agents after the season (Jesse Chavez, Jorge De La Rosa). Cole Hamels was added by trade, then retained via a contract option. David Bote, not mentioned at all in that February article, became an important part of the team.

Beyond that, there are some players who are pretty much unmoveable. I’ve written numerous articles here on who I think the Cubs should trade Tyler Chatwood for, but the reality is he’s probably in blue pinstripes on Opening Day. So is Brandon Kintzler. So is Brian Duensing. I suppose the Cubs could simply let the latter two go, but that would make $8.5 million worth of money paid to two players to not play for the Cubs. Theo & Co. don’t seem to operate that way.

So the 25 men I’m going to mention here are probably not the 25 who will open the season March 28, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. But they are my best guess, based on who’s in the organization right now, of who the Cubs could bring to Texas next March. This obviously assumes no major acquisitions, which ... well, I don’t know. Could the Cubs really stand pretty much pat from where they are now? Jed Hoyer suggested as much a couple of weeks ago:

“I feel really comfortable where we are with our offense,” Hoyer said. “I mean, you look around the diamond — all the guys have performed in different years exceptionally well. They’re still young. It’s about getting that group to gel as a group.

”In the second half, we kinda cratered. A number of guys underperformed. I think we have a plenty good offense if we don’t add another hitter. That being said, we’ll look around; we’ll certainly have discussions, but our focus really is on our own guys.”

Here, then, is what could be the Cubs’ 25-man roster next March.

Pitchers (13)

Starters: Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish

Relievers: Brandon Morrow, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, Brian Duensing, Mike Montgomery, Tyler Chatwood

Catchers (2)

Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini

Infielders (5)

Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, David Bote

Outfielders (4)

Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ, Jason Heyward

You will note that there are only 24 players on this “25-man” roster. That’s because I would have expected Ronald Torreyes to be on it, as a backup infielder, except the Cubs non-tendered him Friday, as you know. The Cubs could re-sign him to a minor-league deal with a NRI, and he would be on the Opening Day roster, likely heading to Iowa on a split contract when Addison Russell returns. If it’s not Torreyes, it will be someone like him — a defense-first infielder who can play shortstop — filling that 25th spot.

You’ll also note that Tyler Chatwood is listed as a reliever, because... well, there really isn’t any other place to put him, for now, anyway, because the Cubs have to pay him and it’s very, very unlikely they will eat $25 million worth of contract and just let him go.

But I think the other 24 spots are pretty well locked up, barring trades.

Poll

How many of these 24 players will not be on the Opening Day roster?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Three or more
    (330 votes)
  • 57%
    Fewer than three
    (452 votes)
782 votes total Vote Now