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...
C: Soto, Clevenger
2B: Barney, DeWitt
3B: Stewart, Baker
LF: Soriano, Johnson
RF: DeJesus, Mather
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)...
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...