Predicting the Chicago Cubs' opening day 26-man roster

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Brandon Hughes - American Football Player
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Opening Day roster - 1. The Bullpen

1. Adrian Sampson
2. Keegan Thompson
3. Adbert Alzolay
4. Rowan Wick
5. Roenis Elias
6. Brandon Hughes
7. Brad Boxberger
8. Andrew Chafin/Matt Moore

Addressing the elephant in the room first: Yes, the Cubs land a back-end piece to their bullpen via free agency—specifically, one of these two names in Chafin or Moore. It will be tight payroll-wise, knowing the Cubs want to save money for the trade deadline if they need to take on another contract without going over the first tier of the luxury tax. That's why it will take Jed Hoyer's creativity with the structure of the contract. Perhaps another one-year mutual option with a higher buyout, as we saw with Cody Bellinger, will do the trick to avoid a higher AAV on the books for 2023.

Sampson, Thompson, Alzolay, Hughes, and Boxberger are no-brainers elsewhere. After what we've witnessed from Elias in the Dominican Winter League, It's safe to say if he performs anywhere near the same level in Spring Training, he certainly will have earned the chance to break camp with the big-league roster. However, fighting for spots with him will be Javier Assad and Jeremiah Estrada. So, that will be an interesting situation to monitor this Spring.

Next. 3 pitchers who could be the Chicago Cubs closer. dark

It will be important to remember that both Codi Heuer and Ethan Roberts will be on the IL to start the season. Heuer is more likely to automatically have room made for him over Roberts, given that the Cubs have always envisioned a more significant role for him. Hopefully, the injury bug stays away from Chicago this season. Landing Chafin or Moore quietly gives the Cubs a stronger bullpen than people will realize.