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The case for the Cubs keeping extra position players in April

Rosters will be expanded through May 1.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Beginning May 2, MLB teams will be allowed to keep 26 players on the active roster. When that happens, no more than 13 of those players must be pitchers. In practice, most teams will wind up keeping 13 pitchers and 13 position players.

But through games of May 1, MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed to allow teams to keep 28 players active, largely because of the shortened Spring Training, which will be fewer than four weeks long and with most teams playing 20 or 21 games.

Many have said that the Cubs should keep 15 pitchers during this expanded roster time. The Cubs have 23 games through May 1. Manager David Ross hinted that the Cubs would do that, but did not commit to it:

“Having a couple extra spots makes a lot of sense to add pitchers,” David Ross said. “Although I’m not committing to that, I think it makes a lot of sense to protect those guys and see where everybody is at. We’ll make that final call before Opening Day.”

This does make sense. On the other hand, the Cubs have added some pitchers to the staff who can throw multiple innings and thus back up starters who might not be stretched out enough before Opening Day. This includes Drew Smyly, Daniel Norris and Jesse Chavez, all of whom are likely to be on the Opening Day roster.

Kyle Hendricks could possibly be ready to throw as many as 90 pitches on Opening Day, based on this analyis of his Sunday start:

Hendricks estimated he threw 60 pitches over the three innings (four runs, four hits, one walk, five strikeouts, two solo home runs). The outing puts him on track to get close to 75 pitches in his final Cactus League start before camp breaks.

That being the case, and with several guys who could throw multiple innings in relief, I’m going to advocate here for keeping 14 position players and 14 pitchers through May 1, as follows:

Catchers (2)

Willson Contreras, Yan Gomes

Infielders (6)

Frank Schwindel, Nick Madrigal, Nico Hoerner, Patrick Wisdom, Jonathan Villar, Andrelton Simmons

Outfielders (6)

Clint Frazier, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, Seiya Suzuki, Rafael Ortega, Michael Hermosillo

This would allow the Cubs to put off any decision on keeping Ortega or Hermosillo, both of whom are out of options. Hermosillo, in particular, has been impressive this spring and has made an excellent case to remain on the Opening Day roster.

Now, given the injury to Simmons, it is possible he’ll start the year on the injured list and that would solve the Hermosillo/Ortega issue. In that case the Cubs would almost certainly begin the year with 15 pitchers.

I’ll have another look at the roster in the coming days, including a look at which pitchers should head north to Wrigley Field for the April 7 opener against the Brewers.


What should the Cubs’ roster mix be through May 1?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    13 pitchers, 15 position players
    (39 votes)
  • 65%
    14 pitchers, 14 position players
    (180 votes)
  • 18%
    15 pitchers, 13 position players
    (50 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (6 votes)
275 votes total Vote Now