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Cubs announce 15 non-roster invitees to Spring Training

Top prospect Brennen Davis highlights the list.

Brennen Davis playing for South Bend in 2019
Clinton Cole

Cubs players on the 40-man roster have begun to report to Spring Training over the last couple of days since the lockout ended. The first official workout is today.

In addition to the 40-man roster, the following 15 players have been given non-roster invitations to Spring Training. A number of these players received minor-league contracts from the Cubs during the lockout, which is permitted.

In this list I’ll put the guys who were in the Cubs organization before this offseason in italics:

RHP: Stephen Gonsalves, Jonathan Holder, Ben Leeper, Mark Leiter Jr., Cayne Ueckert, Eric Yardley
LHP: Conner Menez, Locke St. John
Catchers: John Hicks, P.J. Higgins
Infielders: Dixon Machado, Chase Strumpf, Andy Weber, Ildemaro Vargas
Outfielder: Brennen Davis

It should be noted that Holder, Higgins and Vargas were all in the Cubs organization in 2021 (and Higgins and Vargas played for the Cubs in MLB games), but all three became minor league free agents after 2021 and re-signed with the team.

Of those listed, I would say the most intriguing in terms of possibly making the Opening Day roster would be Menez and Leeper. Menez pitched in 23 MLB games (four starts) for the Giants from 2019-21 and last year had very good K and BB rates. Leeper, who the Cubs signed as a non-drafted free agent last year, absolutely dominated at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa (overall: 1.29 ERA, 0.800 WHIP, 53 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 35 innings) and, at 24, should be watched closely during this shortened spring camp.

About Brennen Davis? The chance of him making the Opening Day roster is, in my view, pretty much zero. He should start the year at Iowa as he’s got very little Triple-A experience. He is only 22 and needs more minor league time (only 167 games and 692 PA so far).

The Cubs are likely to make more signings, both minor- and major-league, to add to this total of 55 players (56, including the just-signed Jesse Chavez). It’s also quite likely that many of the guys who have been in minor league camp for a couple of weeks will play in some of the early spring games.