3 Cubs who could hit the 60-day IL once spring training starts

Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies / Hunter Martin/GettyImages

As we await that long-sought left-handed relief addition with spring training looming, it's time to turn our attention to the roster maneuvering that will no doubt take place in the weeks to come. The Cubs, like virtually every other big league club, have a full 40-man roster. They could gain some flexibility, though, by transfering guys to the 60-day IL.

Two are virtual locks to make the move in relievers Ethan Roberts and Codi Heuer. We recently got our first substantive update on Heuer - with things progressing nicely (albeit slowly), putting him on track for a midseason return to the Cubs. As for Roberts, he's also on pace for a summertime comeback, adding two potential impact arms to David Ross' bullpen mix.

Heuer, if you'll recall, came over along with Nick Madrigal in the Craig Kimbrel trade back in July 2021. With folks souring on Madrigal and no clear path to regular playing time for the former first-rounder, how that trade is graded out long-term may very well depend on the role Heuer winds up playing for the Cubs.

As for Roberts, a breakout 2021 showing with Double-A Tennessee led to his speedy arrival to the big leagues, where he struggled to the tune of a 2.087 WHIP in nine 2022 appearances. He wound up undergoing Tommy John last June - but there's cause for optimism that he could wind up making an impact in the coming years.

The wild card when it comes to the 60-day IL is longtime rotation staple Kyle Hendricks, who is working his way back from a tear in his throwing shoulder that curtailed his inconsistent and, largely ineffective, 2022 season. Not since the shortened 2020 campaign has the right-hander been his typical reliable self - and what form he takes in 2023 could go a long way toward determining whether or not Chicago can punch a postseason ticket.

At Cubs Convention last month, Hendricks offered up plenty of optimism regarding his recovery, but how he proceeds once he's back on a mound at the team's facilities in Arizona will make or break his early season comeback hopes. If he suffers a setback, the Cubs could wind up moving Hendricks to the 60-day, although, that clock wouldn't start until March 30 - meaning the earliest we'd see him back would be Memorial Day.

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Under Carter Hawkins and Jed Hoyer, Chicago has done a great job at revamping the organization's player development arm - and it's led to nice depth in the pitching department. So much so, the Cubs should be just fine until these three guys are ready to contribute - and when they are, it'll be a nice shot in the arm for the pitching staff.