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.

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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1. Richard Lovelady

If Escobar isn't selected to provide lefty relief help on Opening Day, the next best bet would likely be Lovelady. The 28-year-old former Kansas City Royal and Oakland Athletic has shown flashes of potential throughout his limited major league tenure. He debuted in 2019 and didn't begin to look like a good reliever until 2021 when he posted a 3.48 ERA with a 3.85 FIP in 20 2/3 innings all while punching out ten batters per nine. Tommy John surgery took him out of commission until 2023 when he pitched an uninspiring 23 1/3 innings in Oakland (4.63 ERA, 4.54 FIP) before going down with a pronator strain in his forearm.

That may not sound particularly promising, but the Cubs notably signed Lovelady based on his Driveline Pro Day performance. During his showing, his fastball recovered to around 92 mph instead of his 91 mph offering in Oakland and he appeared to showcase a revamped arsenal with a heavier focus on his changeup. It's a significant change considering the slider, which he threw more often than anything in 2023, was his worst pitch with a .233 batting average and .512 slugging percentage against, or a .334 wOBA.

With a curveball and a sinker also in his arsenal, Lovelady boasts a wide range of tools to make him an interesting reliever to watch this spring. Like Escobar and the other depth arms, it seems likely he'll end up back in the majors eventually with the Cubs. His Driveline performance gave enough hope, however, that he could realistically make the Opening Day roster if he stays healthy.

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