The headline to this article might seem wrong to you. “Way-too-early”? Opening Day of the 2022 baseball season is just three weeks from today. The Cubs will take the field against the Brewers April 7.
This article by Sahadev Sharma in The Athletic explains why it’s still early, referring to the surprise (and welcome!) signing of Japanese star Seiya Suzuki:
Before the addition, Hoyer was clear that he wasn’t done adding to the offense. He wouldn’t deny that a “significant” move could be coming, though he cautioned that nothing was done until a deal was signed. The Cubs shouldn’t be done, and nobody expects they are.
So, this attempt to put together an Opening Day roster could be wrong by tonight, or tomorrow, or next week. Given who’s available as of right now, though, here’s my best guess at the Opening Day 26 (or, possibly, 28, as MLB and the MLBPA are still discussing whether rosters should be expanded by two for a short time in April).
A note: The Cubs have yet to officially announce the signings of Suzuki, Chris Martin and Steven Brault, though those have all been reported. I am going on the assumption that those three will all make the OD roster.
Starting pitchers (5)
Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley, Alec Mills, Justin Steele
I’ll give Steele the nod for now. It’s still possible the Cubs will try to sign or trade for another starter, and I think it would be more useful to have the lefthanded Steele in the rotation than the righthanded Keegan Thompson.
Relief pitchers (8)
David Robertson, Rowan Wick, Chris Martin, Steven Brault, Brad Wieck, Scott Effross, Keegan Thompson, Tommy Nance
This is clearly a work in progress.
Willson Contreras, Yan Gomes
This is the only area of the roster that should be 100 percent settled at this time.
Frank Schwindel, Nick Madrigal, Nico Hoerner, Patrick Wisdom, Andrelton Simmons
The acquisition of Simmons puts Sergio Alcántara on the bubble. This article by Meghan Montemurro in the Tribune hints that Simmons could wind up as a utility infielder, rather than a starter:
Andrelton Simmons wants to help the Chicago Cubs win.
Whether that means moving around the infield or solely playing shortstop when needed, the 32-year-old Simmons is ready to do whatever is asked of him. He brings the type of defensive resume the Cubs need in the middle infield behind a largely groundball-inducing rotation.
“Anything they want,” Simmons said Wednesday. “I’m going to try to share a little bit of my experience, share my knowledge and help the young guys if I can. I’m also all ears. I‘m always ready to keep learning and keep growing.”
Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, Jason Heyward, Clint Frazier, Rafael Ortega, Michael Hermosillo
In this scenario, Harold Ramirez, who was claimed on waivers from the Guardians last fall, would be designated for assignment. Or, he could make the team ahead of Hermosillo. Both are out of options.
As I noted, this is all subject to change and I’d actually make a pretty good bet that these exact 26 players will NOT be the 26 lining up on the third-base line at Wrigley April 7. But I thought this would at least give you an idea of the team you’ll see in blue pinstripes this summer.