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Who will get Justin Grimm’s Cubs bullpen spot?

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There are only a couple of logical choices.

The view inside the Cubs bullpen at Wrigley Field
Al Yellon

SCOTTSDALE, ArizonaThe release of Justin Grimm from his contract Wednesday accomplished several things.

First, it gives Grimm a couple of weeks to catch on with another team before Opening Day. It would not surprise me if the Phillies took a chance on him; they’ve had bullpen issues for the last couple of years and with Jake Arrieta now a Phillies pitcher, perhaps a recommendation might be at hand, or maybe with the White Sox, whose bullpen is inexperienced and who have a manager, Rick Renteria, who presided over one of Grimm’s better years (2014).

Second, because of the release date the Cubs owe him $540,000, and based on the $2.475 million deal Grimm received in arbitration, the Cubs can add $1,935,000 to their “cap space” for a midseason acquisition.

Third, it opens a spot on the 40-man roster. That spot is likely going to be taken by Chris Gimenez when the team adds him to the Opening Day roster as the backup catcher to Willson Contreras.

More importantly, though, it opens a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. Grimm was widely expected to be on that roster, along with Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Mike Montgomery, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Brian Duensing and Justin Wilson.

So who gets that open spot?

It’s likely to be someone already on the 40-man roster, because otherwise the Cubs would have to open another 40-man spot for one of the non-roster guys in camp. Further, none of the non-roster guys has impressed enough to warrant that spot.

The Cubs could take a chance and give this spot to Dillon Maples, who throws 95+ consistently. Unfortunately, Maples hasn’t been consistent in throwing strikes this spring (six walks in 5⅓ innings, even with 11 strikeouts), so he’s likely heading back to Iowa to work on his control and command. Maples has talent and he’ll be back, I’m certain of it.

Eddie Butler would seem to be the most logical choice for this spot. Butler is out of options and would have to clear waivers to remain in the organization. He’s kind of a tweener — not good enough for a consistent role in the Cubs rotation (and there’s no room for him there right now anyway), but probably good enough to pitch in some big-league role.

With rest and not overworking pitchers being something very important in modern baseball, the fact that Butler can be stretched out to throw multiple innings could be very important. Having him and Montgomery both in the pen gives the Cubs two hurlers who can both start if needed, or give the rest of the bullpen a break in blowout games.

So, unless the Cubs have some sort of trade in mind for this open spot that we haven’t sussed out yet, I think it’ll be Eddie Butler joining the Cubs bullpen on Opening Day. We’ll see him start this Saturday against the Indians in Mesa.

As for Grimm, he has talent, and at times could blow big-league hitters away. But there were other times he couldn’t harness his fastball and either walked too many guys or served up too many home runs.

But he will always be a Cubs World Series champion. I wish him well wherever he winds up.

Poll

The Cubs’ eighth reliever, replacing Justin Grimm, should be...

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Eddie Butler
    (406 votes)
  • 13%
    Dillon Maples
    (81 votes)
  • 18%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (111 votes)
598 votes total Vote Now