Predicting the 2023 Cubs’ Opening Day roster
Predicting the 2023 Cubs’ Opening Day roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Cubs are still working to finalize their Opening Day roster, and while they’ve already made several key decisions, there are still a few that will need to be made in the coming days.
As things stand, the team is reportedly at 37 names on their roster, with Mike Tauchman getting sent down to minor league camp on Monday.
Questions over the health of Seiya Suzuki, the team’s approach to Christopher Morel, and how the club will construct its bullpen now that Javier Assad will be part of the mix are still left to be decided in the final days before the opener, and here’s how we see things shaking out.
Catchers – Tucker Barnhart, Yan Gomes, Luis Torrens
Luis Torrens has had a solid spring for the Cubs, with a pair of home runs and a .316 batting average, but the Cubs’ starters have all raved about Barnhart and Gomes behind the dish, and with Gomes leading the team with 12 RBI’s, there is an argument to be made that the team could stick with two catchers.
Nonetheless, with the team looking for some offensive punch, reports are swirling that Torrens could start the season with the big-league club.
Infielders – Nico Hoerner, Eric Hosmer, Nick Madrigal, Trey Mancini, Miles Mastrobuoni, Edwin Ríos, Dansby Swanson, Patrick Wisdom
For a team that is set at its middle infield positions thanks to Hoerner and Swanson, it seems wild that the team could potentially carry eight infielders to start the campaign, but with Wisdom and Mancini potentially tag-teaming outfield duties in Seiya Suzuki’s absence, it makes sense in the long run.
The original version of this projection had Zach McKinstry losing out on a spot, but the team officially traded him to the Detroit Tigers within minutes of publication, answering that question.
Mastrobuoni has shown his versatility and is valuable as a left-handed bat, so we’re giving him the nod, along with Ríos since he can platoon at third base while Wisdom is helping in the outfield.
Outfielders – Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ
There had been some skepticism over whether Christopher Morel would make the roster based on the 24 strikeouts he’s racked up this spring, but with a dearth of power-hitting options in the lineup, the team could choose to let him work through those plate discipline concerns at the major league level.
We’re also projecting that Seiya Suzuki will start the season with a brief injured list stint.
Starting Pitchers – Drew Smyly, Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, Jameson Taillon, Hayden Wesneski
This rotation, barring injury, is completely set, with Wesneski earning the final roster spot over the weekend.
Bullpen – Adbert Alzolay, Javier Assad, Brad Boxberger, Michael Fulmer, Brandon Hughes, Julian Merryweather, Keegan Thompson, Rowan Wick
Michael Rucker and Mark Leiter Jr. could still very much be in the mix, which would probably mean Hughes would start the season on the injured list, or that Merryweather may not make the roster out of spring training.
Hughes has been dealing with a knee issue, and although he’s pitching in minor league games, there is a chance that an already righty-heavy bullpen could swerve even further in that direction if he isn’t healthy to start the season.
Injured List – Kyle Hendricks, Seiya Suzuki
With the progress Hendricks has made during the spring, it seems unlikely that he’ll be put on the 60-day injured list to kick off the season. He’ll continue working in Arizona to try to get back into the rotation sooner rather than later.
As for Suzuki, we’re putting him on this list simply because he isn’t expected to start taking live at-bats until this weekend, according to a report from MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, so giving him a bit of additional time to ramp up would make sense.
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