3 Chicago Cubs non-roster players who could make the Opening Day roster

The Cubs could break camp with one or more of their minor league bullpen depth signings.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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#2: Edwin Escobar

The Cubs still require a lefty reliever. Mark Leiter Jr. has served adequately in this role thanks to reverse splits, but a true southpaw on the roster would help to round out the bullpen considerably. Right now, the job could very well belong to the hard-throwing Luke Little, yet we can't ignore the many depth options available now between Richard Lovelady, Thomas Pannone, Brad Wieck, and Edwin Escobar.

Of that group, Escobar seems like the best bet to break camp with the team. The former high-ranking Red Sox prospect did little in his brief appearances in the majors between Boston and Arizona. He instead took his chances in Japan, where he became a much more effective reliever with a 3.17 ERA across seven seasons in the NPB. The Cubs then decided to make Escobar the first move of their offseason.

Escobar could potentially add some extra swing-and-miss to the bullpen. There will always be questions about how his arsenal will translate back to the majors, but he looked like an effective strikeout pitcher overseas. With a plus fastball that reportedly sat around 96 mph in Japan last year, he racked up nearly a strikeout per inning across his 392 1/3 innings overseas. The Cubs have had plenty of luck with getting good results out of project relievers like Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr., and Escobar clearly has the tools to become an impact player as well with some work

The competition will be fierce for the Opening Day roster, but the lefty feels like a reasonable bet to make it. If not, it seems like a high likelihood that Escobar will make it to Wrigley at some point before the season's over. When that time comes, he'll get to play alongside his old Yokohama DeNA Baystars teammate Shota Imanaga in a new uniform.