Cubs have hands full with upcoming 40-man roster decisions

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

When teams across Major League Baseball set their respective 40-man rosters to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft, there are a handful, including the Cubs, that will face some tough decisions – and ones that could have a lasting impact on the organization.

It’s a nice problem to have, really – having too many guys in the mix for 40-man spots because of the depth you’ve assembled. Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer is well aware that, while it’s tough to make these calls, all told, it’s a good position to be in, especially for a club looking to quickly turn the corner on its re-tooling effort.

"“When you have no real strong 40-man roster decisions or no difficult decisions, then that’s a problem,” Hoyer told “We have a lot of really difficult ones now, or guys that I think are deserving.”"

Dating back to the Yu Darvish trade in Dec. 2020, Hoyer has been wheeling and dealing in an effort to replenish a farm system that was severely depleted and lacked the high-impact talent that fueled the team’s run to a World Series in 2016. Now, after two straight trade deadlines as sellers, the returns in those deals have the Cubs with a system that ranks among the top 10 in baseball – a testament to the work Hoyer and his front office has done in a relatively short amount of time.

Which brings us back to the impending 40-man choices that need to be made. As Cubs beat writer Jordan Bastian calls out in the piece above, there are some clear no-brainers: Brennen Davis, Kevin Alcantara and Ben Brown – all of whom rank in the organizational top 10. From there, though, it gets much less cut-and-dry.

Cubs: Don’t underestimate what these 40-man decisions can mean

Really, it’s largely the middle-of-the-pack prospects vying for those 40-man spots. Guys we’ve seen at the big league level this year working in high-leverage spots? That’s no coincidence. The Cubs are trying to gauge just what they have on their hands with guys like Javier Assad, Jeremiah Estrada and others.

It’s easy to know you need to protect your top-ranked prospects. But what can separate the elite organizations in the league from those who are merely ‘good’ can be these seemingly mundane roster-related decisions.

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This might not be that superstar shortstop Cubs fans already have penciled in on their holiday wish lists, but make no mistake: how Hoyer and Hawkins handle these 40-man decisions is something we should all be keeping an eye on this winter.