Monday, the Cubs announced the names of the 32 players who are receiving non-roster invitations to Spring Training.
To refresh your memory, here they are:
Righthanded pitchers (10)
Nick Burdi, Danis Correa, Tyler Duffey, Jordan Holloway, Ben Leeper, Mark Leiter Jr., Nick Neidert, Vinny Nittoli, Manuel Rodríguez and Cam Sanders
Lefthanded pitchers (7)
Ryan Borucki, Roenis Elías, Bailey Horn, Anthony Kay, Brendon Little, Brailyn Márquez and Eric Stout
Sergio Alcántara, David Bote, Matt Mervis, Esteban Quiroz, Chase Strumpf, Andy Weber and Jared Young
Pete Crow-Armstrong, Ben DeLuzio, Darius Hill, Yonathan Perlaza, and Mike Tauchman
Dom Nuñez, Luis Torrens and Bryce Windham
Do any of these players have a realistic chance of making the Opening Day roster? Let’s have a look.
The first thing to remember is that there will be 14 players on the 40-man roster who won’t make the 26-man Opening Day roster. In general, the 32 named above sit behind them, because in order for any of them to become a Chicago Cub when they begin the 2023 season in Wrigley Field March 30 against the Brewers, someone will have to come off the 40-man roster.
There will be at least three open spots on the 40-man roster soon. Alexander Canario, Codi Heuer and Ethan Roberts are all very likely to be placed on the 60-day injured list whenever that’s available for teams. Each 60-day placement opens a spot on the 40-man. None of those players will be ready on Opening Day. It’s also possible Kyle Hendricks won’t be ready on Opening Day and he could also receive a 60-day placement.
So there could be room for one of the non-roster guys to make the team.
Some of these players are getting NRI’s to give them a taste of MLB competition. Pete Crow-Armstrong is one of those players. He’s likely starting the season at Double-A.
A few others, including Andy Weber and Jared Young, are likely being given these invites in order to thank them for long organizational service.
Most likely, if a non-roster player is going north with the team to start the season, it’s going to be a pitcher. I wrote the other day about the possibility that Roenis Elias could serve a useful role in the Cubs bullpen. Mark Leiter Jr., who threw quite well in relief after being placed there for good in 2022, could be another. Of the 17 pitchers who have been given a NRI, 14 have some MLB experience (all but Bailey Horn, Ben Leeper and Cam Sanders). Thus even if none of those pitchers makes the Opening Day roster, many will wind up on the Iowa Shuttle.
Do you think the Cubs will take any NRI players with them for Opening Day? If so, who?