Updated Cubs roster situation: Only bullpen still in flux

Updated Cubs roster situation: Only bullpen still in flux
Only a few spots left to fill for manager Dale Sveum

There have been some unexpected developments today as it seems clear the front office is working to keep as many assets as possible.  Players with options are being sent down so that the Cubs can keep Lendy Castillo whom they would lose if they don't make the Opening Day roster.

The only thing left to be decided are the bullpen spots.  Here's the roster as it stands right now

Barring a trade, the following are locked in...

Position Players

C: Soto, Clevenger

1B: LaHair

2B: Barney, DeWitt

SS: Castro

3B: Stewart, Baker

LF: Soriano, Johnson

CF: Byrd

RF: DeJesus, Mather

Rotation Order

  1. Dempster
  2. Garza
  3. Samardzija
  4. Volstad
  5. Maholm

Now the only spots to really be decided on are in the bullpen.

Marmol, Wood, and Russell are locks.   That leaves 4 spots.  I think Dolis has the inside track on one of them.  The Cubs lost a power bullpen arm when Samardzija made the rotation and Dolis has shown he is up to the task.  I also think the Cubs will keep Castillo rather than lose him.  At this point he shows too much potential to give up, especially for a team that needs as much young talent as they can get. Castillo is a power arm as well, but I doubt the Cubs want to use him in high leverage situations right off the bat like they might with Dolis.

Update: A source has told me that Frankie De La Cruz has also been waived.

That leaves two available spots and the available pitchers are as follows:

  • Rodrigo Lopez
  • Shawn Camp
  • Manny Corpas

The Cubs have 39 places on the roster and have to open up at least one spot for Mather/DeWitt. Camp is the only pitcher with a recent reliable track record in the majors.  With a bullpen that will be relying on two unproven guys in Castillo and Dolis, manager Dale Sveum may want a steady veteran to fall back on.  In this light, we cannot forget Manny Corpas, who has been terrific lately but no longer has a roster spot, so the Cubs would have to make room.  Like Camp, Corpas has experience and could help stabilize the bullpen though recent injuries make him more of an unknown.  Rodrigo Lopez, who can be a valuable swingman, also factors in.

One key spot is Marcos Mateo.  The Cubs have a few options here.  They could put him on the DL, but that won't open up a roster spot on the 40 man unless it's the 60 day DL.  Without knowing how badly he's hurt, I'm uncertain if that's an idea the Cubs are entertaining.  The other option is to just waive him.  He has some impressive stuff and some encouraging peripheral numbers, but will a team take him on and put him on their 25 man roster when his health is uncertain?  It's possible they may be able to sneak him through.

It's just too difficult to say right now as we can probably expect a minor deal or two in the next few days, whether it's waiving another player off the 40 man roster (John Gaub and Mateo are possibilities), putting Mateo on the 60 day DL, or making a deal with the Phillies to keep Castillo in the minors.  Trading Randy Wells remains a very real possibility at this point.  The guess here is that the Cubs would prefer not to waive anybody else if they can help it.  Cubs will explore every option where they can keep as many assets as they can.

So my current guess on the bullpen goes like this:  Lopez gets optioned and Camp, Corpas get the last 2 spots.  Both Corpas and Camp are on minor league deals and can be sent down without clearing waivers, but as we've seen with Andy Sonnanstine, they could refuse that assignment and become a free agent instead.  If I'm the Cubs, I'd be more afraid to lose Corpas than Camp given age and long term value. But I do think there's a good chance the Cubs keep both and keep Lopez stretched out in Iowa.

Mini-Update: I always say my readers are the best out there, so I'm updating my final guess (again!) to keep Lopez as a long man (with hockey style double assist to elusivekarp/svazcub). So here's my final bullpen prediction (for now)...

  • Marmol
  • Wood:
  • Russell:
  • Dolis
  • Corpas
  • Castillo
  • Lopez

But the Cubs have already shown they are anything but predictable so we'll see what happens over the next week.  I don't think anything has been decided yet.

Thoughts? Alternative theories? You are allowed multiple choices on this poll, so choose your final 4...


Filed under: Spring Training

Tags: roster decisions


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  • Already on record....I would cut Mateo in a New York minute. I think more highly of Corpas than Camp. 'Course, I don't respect anyone who listens to MY opinions.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    I agree on Corpas but I do think the Mateo situation depends on the extent of the injury.

  • I'm confused. When I asked about who could possibly come in as a mop-up man or emergency starter other than Rodrigo Lopez, the only name you seemed confident in was Frankie De La Cruz. If he's truly been waived, then your projected roster can't be right. The only possible explanation would be that Lendy Castillo is going to be given some long-relief work the next few days to see if he's capable. Otherwise, Rodrigo Lopez is a lock.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I brought it up as a possibility but I didn't say I was sure. He's been waived, impeccable source on this.

    If the Cubs do take a long man, then it will be Lopez, but there's no guarantee they take someone like that. In my opinion, it's between Camp and Lopez for the final spot.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    One option would be to skip the long man for April since the 5th starter will only be needed 2 times that month to keep everyone on 4 days rest: Saturday, April 14th and Saturday, April 21st. Maholm or whomever is actually deemed the 5th starter could work out of the pen much of the rest of the month (and should get at least 2-3 relief appearances just to try and stay sharp).

    However, if Maholm is the 5th starter, and I believe I read a few days ago that he was locked in as number 5 because of shoulder soreness, then they probably wouldn't want to have him pitching in spur of the moment relief appearances and perhaps would want a long reliever.

    See how I did that? :)

    Camp did have 3 decent years in a row with Toronto before a bad 2011, but he pitched almost exclusively just 1 inning at a time. I think that make Lopez almost a lock, barring a trade for a lefty, which might throw the entire race for spots off kilter.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Haha! I did see what you did there.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I don't disagree with your theory though. I'm pretty set on Corpas, but wouldn't be surprised to see Lopez make it over Camp. I'm actually pretty close to 50/50 on that. In fact, maybe you've convinced me a bit to lean the other way ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    While I like what Just Win has suggested, I just don't see you scenario. I'm not just wondering about the long man. Think about cases of emergency. Let's say a starter gets hurt in warmups on his day to pitch. It's less than 90 minutes to game time. You don't want to let anybody go on just 3 days rest, so it's down to the boys in the pen. Here are the options:
    -Carlos Marmol? Rafael Dolis? Lendy Castillo? Manny Corpas? Shawn Camp? ummmmm no
    -Kerry Wood? He hasn't had the stamina to go 5 innings in a game since 2005.
    -James Russell? Ideally he would be the guy, but no. By starting him you would take the only lefty from the pen out of the equation. Now that's a strategical suicide.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I think that's a very unlikely turn of events. That doesn't happen often. Long men are more useful when you're starter lays an egg and goes 3 innings (or less) and you need a guy to come in and pitch 3 or 4 innings

  • Where is Wells in that scenario? And who is the long/swing guy in that bullpen?

    I have doubts that Corpas, Camp and Dolis will all make the pen. I think two of those three is likely, but not all of them.

    I don't personally like the idea of Camp, as he is 35, had a bad 2011, is not on the 40-man roster, and is not the kind of guy who would likely bring value in a future trade.

    If we add Corpas, Camp, Mather and DeWitt to the roster, that's a lot of guys we'll have to put through waivers.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    You and elusivekarp have convinced me. I made a mini-update to keep Lopez over Camp. I'm really digging Corpas right now.

  • As long as we dont lose Castillo I could flip a coin over all the other guys mentions except Dolis who could be ready to take Marmols place very soon.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Dolis and Castillo most raw talent with upside guys of group, no doubt.

  • I missed your other headlines, so I didn't see Wells was sent down. Wow.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I was stunned. I'm sure he was too.

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    Lopez is a lock, he'll be the long relief guy. Dolis is a lock also. I'm leaning towards Castillo being a lock cause he's out of options unless the Cubs are able to cut a deal. The Cubs are looking hard at another lefty to add to the team. If they don't find one, I'm guessing that Corpas gets the last spot. I think Camp will miss out cause he's older and won't show much cause a team already thought he didn't have much already.

  • In reply to Danny Guerra:

    I'm convinced! :) It does make a lot of sense.

    Regarding RP, just heard some stuff regarding possible trade, so will have another post up later. But need a break right now.

  • fb_avatar

    I think you're right on with your final BP prediction, barring trade, Lopez, Corpas, and Castillo. I have no problem with Lopez because he was very good in innings 1-3 last year, but was awful in the 4th and 5th ip of a start.

    I prefer Corpas over Camp, better stuff. I'd much rather see them try Castillo than Camp, who looks like a very mediocre option. They can always cut bait with any of these guys if needed because they have done a good job of loading up the minors with more options.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Lopez loses velocity quickly and he doesn't have a whole lot to begin with. I think at this point he's perfect for that long man role that saves the bullpen after a bad outing by a starter.

  • Camp didn't help his cause today, giving up 3 ER in 1 1/3 -- and it would have been more if he hadn't been bailed out by that double play on the fly ball to Ty Wright.

    If it's Lopez, Corpas and Castillo, then I think you've got a good mix of youngsters and vets. But are we really going into the season without another lefty reliever?

    We can only use Russell so much, and we're giving away lots of batting average points to left-handed hitters. I know Maine isn't ready and that Trever Miller isn't very exciting, but Miller hold lefties to a .225 clip over his career. Personally, I'd rather have Miller than Corpas.

  • In reply to Taft:

    That really hurts Camp at this stage of the game. If Corpas comes out and starts dealing again, it's going to be really hard not to take him north. He was a pretty good reliever not to long ago and he looks like he's on his way back.

    The Cubs have already released Miller. I'm not sure if you knew that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I know we released Miller, but I'm still getting over it. I loved that LOOGY!

  • In reply to Taft:

    Haha! He is that, but probably didn't help that in his last outing he came in to get a lefty and he ripped it into the gap. I know it's not much, but room for error small for guys like Miller. Coupled with that disastrous outing, those two things ruined an otherwise good spring.

  • I think we are in pretty much in agreement, Camp is the squeaky wheel. I think Corpas wins by default, even though I'm not in love with the guy. Power arms always in the end for the bullpen, unless that pitcher has crazy control or an outstanding change up.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Agreed...didn't help that Camp got knocked around today.

  • If it's between Camp and Dolis, I'd take Dolis, just because I don't see Camp having trade value. Normally, I'd give Dolis some AAA experience, but Camp isn't worth sacrificing to keep, and Dolis has had a great spring.

    As far as the lefties, they will have a ton of lefties in AAA waiting around for their chance, and between Dolis and Castillo, it's likely that one of them will struggle and need to be replaced at some point. Even Corpas isn't a sure bet to stick.

    The most interesting speculation left is who will lose their spots on the 40-man. If they need to add Mather, DeWitt, Corpas and Lopez, that's a lot of spots to clear up. (Of course, if they also take Camp north with them, that would make another spot to clear on the 40-man...) I guess de la Cruz already lost his spot, and they had been at 39. I'm guessing the other victims of the numbers crunch would be Mateo and Cabrera.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    No chance they cut Cabrera. Mateo maybe. I'd say someone like Gaub is more likely than Cabrera. He's older, he's wild and probably not ever going to have even average control. Good stuff, but it's not useable right now and he's running out of time. Cubs could also cut Cardenas since he and DeWitt are very much the same player. I'm thinking minor deal. Gaub for cash considerations or something like that.

  • I'm far from sold on Cabrera. He might have an impressive fastball, but he hasn't turned it into results, career MiLB ERA over 5 and career MiLB WHIP over 1.6. Other than a solid half-season at Daytona, he's been horrendous. I don't see a whole lot of danger of him getting claimed off of waivers when he can't even get AA hitters out. I know it's not always that simple, but you'd think a guy would have to have at least SOME success actually pitching in games to be valuable, as opposed to someone who just LOOKS good lighting up radar guns.

    As far as Gaub goes, he isn't THAT old, pitched pretty well at Iowa last year, and has a MiLB career K/H ratio of nearly 1.94, which is pretty impressive over the course of a pro career. Given the fact that he was decent in AAA last year and is a lefty, it would be almost impossible to get him through waivers.

    It'll be interesting to see. This is why I think it's interesting to speculate about this stuff.

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