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Here’s how the Cubs’ current 40-man roster was put together

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The Cubs have focused on position players through the draft and acquired pitching elsewhere.

The Cubs, as they appeared at the 2018 home opener
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We’re still about four weeks out from spring training, but I thought this would be a good time to take a look at the Cubs’ current 40-man roster (which now stands at 38) and how they were acquired.

It is notable that of these 38 players, 28 of them were on the 40-man roster when I made a post on this topic about a year ago. It did seem at the time that the Cubs’ active roster would look much the same in 2019 as it did in 2018, and that does appear to be the case, with the only significant changes being the acquisitions by trade of Cole Hamels and Brandon Kintzler, and the signing of Daniel Descalso.

Of course, there could still be a couple of changes before spring training begins, and this roster does not include Addison Russell and Oscar De La Cruz, both of whom are serving suspensions.

Pitchers (24)

Adbert Alzolay: signed as international free agent March 8, 2013
Tyler Chatwood: signed as free agent December 7, 2017
Steve Cishek: signed as free agent December 16, 2017
Yu Darvish: signed as free agent February 13, 2018
Brian Duensing: signed as free agent January 22, 2018
Carl Edwards Jr.: acquired in trade for Matt Garza July 22, 2013
Kendall Graveman: signed as free agent December 23, 2018
Cole Hamels: acquired in trade for Eddie Butler (and others) July 27, 2018
Kyle Hendricks: acquired in trade for Ryan Dempster July 31, 2012
Brandon Kintzler: acquired in trade for Jhon Romero July 31, 2018
Jon Lester: signed as free agent December 15, 2014
Dillon Maples: selected in 14th round of draft June 7, 2011
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
James Norwood: selected in seventh round of draft June 6, 2014
Jose Quintana: acquired in trade for Eloy Jimenez (and others) July 13, 2017
Randy Rosario: claimed on waivers November 3, 2017
Kyle Ryan: signed as free agent January 9, 2018
Justin Steele: selected in fifth round of draft June 6, 2014
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
Rowan Wick: acquired in trade for Jason Vosler November 20, 2018

Catchers (3)

Willson Contreras: signed as international free agent July 2, 2009
Victor Caratini: acquired in trade for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio July 31, 2014
Taylor Davis: signed as amateur free agent July 11, 2011

Infielders (6)

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
Daniel Descalso: signed as free agent December 18, 2018
Anthony Rizzo: acquired in trade for Andrew Cashner January 6, 2012
Ben Zobrist: signed as free agent December 8, 2015

Outfielders (5)

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.

Draft: 11
Trade: 11
MLB free agent: 11
Amateur free agent: 1
International free agent: 3
Waivers: 1

Here’s the breakdown from last year’s 40-man (on January 30, 2018):

Draft: 10
Trade: 13
Free agent: 9
International free agent: 4
Waivers: 3

That’s more or less the same. There’s still a dearth of Cubs-drafted pitchers on the 40-man. Just Maples, Steele, Underwood and Norwood were originally drafted by the Cubs, and none has made a significant big-league impact yet. This is something that’s going to have to change soon. The Cubs are going to have to start developing their own pitching. Of the five men expected to be in the Cubs’ rotation this year, two (Lester and Darvish) were signed to big-money free-agent deals, the other three (Hendricks, Quintana and Hamels) acquired by trade, one of those costing the Cubs a top prospect.

Meanwhile, of the 14 position players on the roster, 11 have never played for another organization.

The team has also done well in trades, acquiring Rizzo, Hendricks, Montgomery, Quintana, Strop, Edwards and Hamels, all of whom have made major contributions to the team.

Lastly, as I noted last year, 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.