Chicago Cubs: Who Will Get The Final Roster Spot?
Opening Night is only a week away and the Chicago Cubs are trying to figure out who will fill the remaining slots on their 25-man roster. The competition has heated up between three players who proved to be valuable pieces in their young careers.
With Spring Training winding down, a majority of Major League rosters are starting to come into focus, the only question now remains is to find out who fills those last few bench spots. For the Chicago Cubs, it more comes down to one final roster spot on the 25 man roster for opening day. The options include Matt Szczur, Tommy La Stella, and Munenori Kawasaki. They all have their own case to make the roster, so let’s dive deeper.
Starting with Matt Szczur, who may be the least compelling of the candidates, he does have a little big league experience, compiling just 134 Major League at-bats over the last two seasons. He does have a home run off Clayton Kershaw to his credit, though, however. Szczur will bring some speed off the bench, and is a good defensive option in the outfield for late game situations.
The second option is Tommy La Stella. La Stella may be the best option here, as he can work counts and deliver good at-bats, and can play multiple infield positions.
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He rarely strikes out and has a high on-base percentage, which is exactly what this team full of power hitters needs, a guy who can get on base ahead of them. La Stella also started the wild card game in Pittsburgh last year, and he appears to be the favorite to land the job.
Then we have Munenori Kawasaki, who is noted as a clubhouse guy from his time in Toronto, and short stint in Seattle. Kawasaki only fits here because he would mesh with Joe Maddon very well, he has the personality, and could serve as the “team mascot” of sorts, ala Jonathan Herrera of last year.
Kawasaki is not a bad fielder by any means, either, as he has only made 13 errors since coming to the big leagues in 2o12, so he could serve as a backup infielder. The only problem with that is that Javier Baez will serve as the backup infielder, and Ben Zobrist can play multiple defensive positions, the only fit for him seems to be his personality.
As for the bullpen, Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, and Adam Warren are the pitchers with guaranteed spots right now. The last one, maybe two spots, depending on if the Cubs want to operate on a seven or eight man bullpen, comes down to Neil Ramirez and Trevor Cahill it would seem.
Next: Final roster spot will be a tough call
If it’s an eight-man bullpen, both should earn spots. If Maddon only operates a seven-man bullpen, Neil Ramirez should get the spot simply because they do not need four long relief pitchers, with Wood, Warren, and Richard serving in that role already.