There were no surprise additions or omissions on the list of non-roster players invited big league camp for the Cubs announced today.
The 40-man roster currently sits at 39, with the deal for reliever Brad Brach still pending, which would bring the roster to capacity. Since the contract agreement was announced approximately two weeks ago, it is possible the required physical was delayed due to the recent weather or perhaps a minor injury by Brach, or the physical took place and an issue was discovered which required the two sides to hold off and re-examine the issue after a certain amount of time, or perhaps re-negotiate or void the previous agreement. As of right now, we simply don't know.
With the rotation in place (Hendricks, Lester, Darvish, Hamels, Quintana), and closer Brandon Morrow projected to miss the opening month of the season, the main battle this spring is definitely for the final 3-4 spots in the bullpen. If they remain healthy, four of the relievers are set for Opening Day: Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, C.J. Edwards, and Mike Montgomery. Assuming the Brad Brach deal is eventually approved he would make five.
That leaves three (or four depending on Brach) open to competition that will come from some combination of Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Kintzler, Brian Duensing (who are all out of Minor League options and possess guaranteed MLB deals), and then additional 40-man roster options Tony Barnette, Dillon Maples, Rowan Wick, Alec Mills, Duane Underwood, James Norwood as well as lefties Randy Rosario and Kyle Ryan. The 14 relievers on the NRI above will also compete. Allen Webster and George Kontos are the mostly likely in my eye to receive consideration.
Dakota Mekkes is the lone prospect receiving an invite that I could see forcing his way into consideration, but I believe he is more likely to be an in-season addition, after the team sorts through the veterans they are bringing in for looks. If he shows improved control this spring he could force the team's hand though.
Three bench spots are projected to be occupied by Daniel Descalso, Victor Caratini and Albert Almora (or Ian Happ depending on who you view as the starter in CF). I do not believe any of the position players receiving non-roster invites have much of a chance to unseat David Bote for the final bench spot. With off days built into the early schedule a true backup SS for Javier Baez is not an important factor and the team could simply choose to get by with Bote and/or some combination of Descalso and Zobrist. Addison Russell, if he remains with the team by the time his suspension ends would eventually displace Bote in May.
Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa next Tuesday.