Some of the spots on the Opening Day roster are locks. It seemed when camp opened that almost all 25 would be, but now there are some questions. Those questions particularly pertain to the bullpen, and mostly due to injuries.
Let’s take another look at who will be the 25 players in the Cubs dugout on March 28. These are my personal best guesses.
Starters: Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana
Relievers: Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Steve Cishek, Tyler Chatwood, Brian Duensing, Brandon Kintzler, Dillon Maples
Some of the relief decisions have been made easier by injuries. Tony Barnette, Brad Brach and Xavier Cedeno will all begin the year on the injured list, for various reasons. Brach and Cedeno would certainly have been on the active roster if not for illness (Brach) and injury (Cedeno, who hasn’t pitched at all this spring). Barnette would have had a strong case, but he too is injured.
That speaks to the Cubs’ depth. Duensing and Kintzler haven’t had great springs, but they are both under contract and so, at least to begin the year, they’ll be in the pen. Maybe it will work.
Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini
The Cubs looked around for a veteran backup to Contreras but were unable to sign or trade for one. It might be that they’ll look around again before the new single trade deadline of July 31. Alex Avila, who did a good job for the Cubs for two months in 2017, might be available again (caveat: he did not have a good year in 2018).
Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Daniel Descalso, David Bote
Descalso appears headed back to being healthy enough to play Opening Day:
Descalso performed some baseball work, said his shoulder feels good, hopes to resume swinging a bat Tuesday— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 17, 2019
Here are some thoughts on his new team and the season from Descalso on Saturday:
Descalso mentioned that “most” of the guys in the current clubhouse were on the 2016 Cubs World Series championship team. There are just 13 players remaining from that team who will be on the 2019 Cubs active roster — Edwards, Hendricks, Lester, Montgomery, Strop, Contreras, Rizzo, Baez, Zobrist, Bryant, Almora, Schwarber and Heyward.
Bote is likely staying until Addison Russell returns from his suspension. Russell will first be eligible (barring rainouts) for the May 3 game against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ, Jason Heyward
No surprises here. Between the four players here, there will be enough playing time to give sufficient rest.
And barring any injury or deal made by the Cubs over the next 10 days, I think those are the 25 men you’ll see open the 2019 regular season for the team.