Cubs’ Eric Sogard, Matt Duffy, Rex Brothers make Opening Day roster

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Tim Stebbins
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Sogard, Duffy, Brothers make Cubs’ Opening Day roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Cubs Opening Day roster is almost finalized.

Sunday, the Cubs selected the contracts of infielders Eric Sogard and Matt Duffy, as well as lefty reliever Rex Brothers. The trio were non-roster invitees this spring signed to minor league deals.

Right-handed reliever Dillon Maples, who's out of minor-league options, has also made the roster, while versatile infielder Ildemaro Vargas has been designated for assignment. The 40-man roster is full.

The moves mean the Cubs will carry 14 pitchers (nine relievers) and 12 position players to start the season.

Sogard, 34, offers a backup to starting second baseman David Bote as well as a lefty bat off the bench. He also is the backup shortstop to Javier Báez, with Nico Hoerner sent to Triple-A on Saturday.

Sogard has experience playing third base and may even see some time in left field, if needed. 

The last bench spot came down to Duffy and Vargas. With Sogard offering shortstop depth, the Cubs opted to carry Duffy, who like Vargas can play multiple infield positions, because of his contact-oriented approach.

“In the role that they're going to be in, the quality [at-bat], on-base [capability] kind of swayed that decision,” manager David Ross said Sunday.

Duffy, 30, is a career .282 hitter with a career 84 percent contact rate. 

Brothers gives the Cubs two lefties on the pitching staff, in addition to Andrew Chafin. He's looked good this spring, throwing eight scoreless innings.

Command has been an issue for Brothers in his career, but he’s only walked one batter this spring. He wields an upper-90s fastball and power repertoire, which Ross said plays against both right-handed and left-handed bats.

"I think that's one of the better stories of spring," Ross said, "and really what this guy's done and the road he's had to take over his career of success — a little bit of failure and coming back strong.

"He was one of the fun ones to tell, that he was on the club."

Maples has tantalizing potential with upper-90s heat and a nasty slider but has dealt with command issues in his career. He came into camp with a shortened arm stroke and has thrown strikes more frequently. 

"His stuff is real. I think he can still be a real big piece in our bullpen and get big outs, but he’s still on a path," Ross said. "We haven’t even seen the best of Dillon Maples yet, I think is what I'm getting at.

"I think he's got some real upside that he's trending towards every single year."

The Cubs are still determining who will start the season as the backup catcher. Austin Romine hasn't played since March 6 with a right knee sprain. If he needs more time, P.J. Higgins is in line to make the roster. 

Ross said Rowan Wick (left oblique) threw a bullpen in recent days and Jonathan Holder (chest) has been long-tossing and will throw a bullpen in the next few days. Holder will travel to Chicago with the club as he continues his recovery.

Cameron Maybin signs minor league deal

In other roster news, the Cubs have re-signed Cameron Maybin, who was granted his release on Saturday, to a minor-league deal. Maybin will report to the club's alternate site to open the season.

Ross said he's "pumped" Maybin is staying in the organization.

"When I got the news [Sunday] morning about that, I was super excited," Ross added. "He likes being around. He's a breath of fresh air every time you see him."

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