The minor-league season ends after Monday’s games and so there will be more players available for the big-league Cubs to add to the roster.
The Cubs currently are carrying 30 players on the active roster: 15 pitchers, three catchers, eight infielders and four outfielders.
I’ve heard and read lots of suggestions of names to be added from the Iowa roster such as Kyle Ryan, Allen Webster, Ryan Court, Mike Freeman and Chris Coghlan. I can pretty well assure you that exactly zero of those players will be added to the Cubs’ active roster.
Why? Well, first, the Cubs will activate players from the disabled list. Brian Duensing was recently on rehab assignment at Iowa and so was Tyler Chatwood. Regardless of whether you actually want to see Chatwood pitch again this year, he’ll be placed back on the active roster and so will Duensing, probably as soon as Monday:
Left-handed reliever Brian Duensing and pitcher Tyler Chatwood are expected to join the team from Triple-A Iowa, which concludes its season Monday. Duensing and Chatwood are on minor-league rehab assignments.
Both Duensing and Chatwood threw in Sunday’s game for Iowa. The results for Chatwood weren’t good. Now, just because Chatwood is on the active roster doesn’t mean he’ll pitch. That’s unlikely with so many pitchers on the roster.
Brandon Morrow, will also be placed on the active roster, likely toward the middle of this month, when he’s ready to go. Since the minor-league season ends today, Morrow’s likely going to have to throw a few sim games before he’s activated.
So that already makes 33 players, and 18 pitchers with those three added. It would appear that Alec Mills won’t be one of those added back; originally, it appeared he might make a start against the Brewers Tuesday, but based on the probable pitchers listed on the Cubs website, they are returning to a five-man rotation, at least for the Milwaukee series, with Mike Montgomery going Tuesday and Jose Quintana Wednesday. I suppose it’s possible Mills could be added later on to take a start against (perhaps) the Reds.
But more importantly, there simply isn’t room on the Cubs’ 40-man roster for anyone who isn’t already on it. I suppose they could designate Mark Zagunis for assignment; he’s not likely to be recalled and he’s not really part of the team’s future.
They’re not going to put Adbert Alzolay, who’s out for the season, on the 60-day disabled list. That would create an open 40-man spot, but if Alzolay is put on the 60-day DL, he’ll get major-league pay for September. While that would be great for Alzolay, the team is very, very close to the $197 million luxury-tax limit and adding a big-league salary, even for one month, for a guy who isn’t going to play, doesn’t seem like something they would do.
A DFA of Zagunis might make room for Drew Smyly, if the team thinks he can help out in September. That would make 34 active players and 19 active pitchers, 35 and 20 if they recall Mills. Jaime Garcia, recently signed to a minor-league deal, hasn’t yet pitched for Iowa; he might do so Monday, but one outing isn’t likely enough to evaluate him enough to add him to the active roster. Smyly, too, has thrown only one minor-league inning this year, last Thursday in South Bend, probably not enough to give the team a decent evaluation of whether he can help out in September.
One more player will eventually be activated from the disabled list: Jason Heyward. Once Heyward returns, if the pitchers noted above also return, that would make 36 active players. There really isn’t enough playing time for any more than that, and even 36 would mean a lot of guys sitting around not pitching or not playing the field or not hitting.
So you’re not likely to see anyone play for the Cubs this month that you haven’t already seen earlier this year, with the exception of Terrance Gore, who was added to the roster Saturday and played Sunday, and possibly Smyly.
That’s the way I see it, anyway. We’ll find out more later today, and tomorrow.