Chicago Cubs: Three relievers that will fight for a spot in Spring Training

Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners
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Glancing over the roster as it sits now, the Chicago Cubs currently have a plethora of pitchers that seem locked into the 26-man roster and only 13 spots available. Needless to say, it's already crowded with arms. Let's first take a look at 11 who are more than likely those surefire guys:

  • Marcus Stroman
  • Jameson Taillon
  • Justin Steele
  • Hayden Wesneski
  • Drew Smyly
  • Kyle Hendricks (Assuming he doesn't start on the IL)
  • Adrian Sampson
  • Keegan Thompson
  • Adbert Alzolay
  • Brad Boxberger
  • Brandon Hughes

Elsewhere, you have Caleb Kilian, Javier Assad, Mark Leiter Jr., Rowan Wick, Michael Rucker, and Manuel Rodriguez, which could also be considered. That's before digging into these recent minor-league signings. We must also remember that Codi Heuer and Ethan Roberts will be on IL, and at least the former will be taking some one's spot.

The Cubs also presumably want to add to the back end of the bullpen this winter, which means a name like Mark Leiter Jr., who has zero options available, might not even be a Cub by the time Spring Training rolls along. Therefore, it becomes interesting to analyze who has the best shot at landing one of the remaining spots in the bullpen as it sits now. Let's look at three potential candidates with the best chances, should they perform.

Roenis Elias
Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

3 relievers fighting for spots - 3. Roenis Elias

After being picked up by the Cubs this winter on a minor league deal due to having an absolutely spectacular Dominican Winter League showing thus far, Elias has a clear path to the big leagues if he continues to succeed in Spring Training. Currently, Elias owns a 1.02 ERA in 44.2 IP in the DWL. Prior, he recorded a 3.96 ERA dating back to 2014 with the Seattle Mariners for his career in the majors. Elias also provides depth as a spot starter, as we've discussed in the recent past.

With the Cubs needing lefties in the bullpen, Elias should be seen as the primary pitcher of the three recently signed minor league deals who has the most potential to crack the big league roster this Spring. Anthony Kay will be an interesting reclamation project for the Cubs, and Brad Wieck will likely need time in Iowa before any call-ups so he can fine-tune his mechanics. With a bullpen currently full of righties, Elias may be the one who has the inside track to the job.