Infielder Matt Duffy and reliever Dillon Maples were two of the surprise additions to the Cubs’ 26-man roster.
SURPRISE, Ariz. – The Cubs head back to Chicago on Monday night and with the season a few days away, the team began finalizing their Opening Day roster.
On Sunday, the Cubs selected the contracts of infielders Eric Sogard and Matt Duffy as they round out the team’s bench. Duffy beat out infielder Ildemaro Vargas, who was designated for assignment, for the spot.
“Everybody’s had a really good spring and I think we’re covered in shortstop depth already,” manager David Ross said of the decision to keep Duffy. “Just looking at the numbers Duffy has put up when he’s healthy and the quality of the at-bat every single time he gets in the box and the versatility that he has, they both have a lot of versatility.
“But I just thought it’s a little more contact on-base, quality at-bat. I would say a little more power from Vargas when he’s right and in the role that they’re going to be in, I think it’s going to be the quality at-bat and on-base that kind of kind of swayed that decision.”
With Jake Marisnick as the fourth outfielder, the last bench spot will be left for whoever is the team’s backup catcher. Catcher Austin Romine appears unlikely to break camp with the team dealing with a right knee sprain. Catcher PJ Higgins would be the team’s other internal candidate with options outside the organization also being a possibility.
The Cubs made their final additions to the bullpen with both left-hander Rex Brothers and right-hander Dillon Maples both making the team. Both Brothers and Maples have had strong camps and the Cubs feel like the adjustments they’ve made can stick long term.
The two relievers both made the Opening Day roster last season, but after each struggled in their limited opportunities, both were sent down to the alternate site.
“Last year when I sent [Rex] down, we had a real good conversation in his hotel room that made me better as a manager, I would say about how to talk to players,” Ross said. “I got a special place for Rex for me and what he’s helped me do and to watch that journey and then watch him come in here and pitch the way he has, I feel like he’s really helped us this year.”
The Cubs will break camp with a nine-man bullpen including Maples, Brothers, Alec Mills, Brandon Workman, Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, Jason Adam and Dan Winkler.
“We’ve got a bullpen that matches up really well with a lot of different looks down there,” Ross said. “And we’ve got a legit closer – a guy that’s put up some career numbers that could rival anybody.”
Right-hander Rowan Wick will not break camp with the club as he continues to build strength after an intercostal injury cost him significant time this spring. While Wick won’t be on the Opening Day roster, he threw a 25-pitch bullpen this week and is on pace to begin facing hitters at the Cubs’ alternate site soon.
Here’s what the Cubs’ roster will look like on Opening Day:
Starting Rotation (5)