The Chicago Cubs are one of the hottest teams in baseball and have an extensive lead in the wild card race in the National League, but the team will soon have an opportunity to shore up their roster even more.
That’s because Major League Baseball rosters can expand from 25 players to up to 40 on Sept. 1. The roster expansion is routinely used by teams to add in extra pitchers to work from the bullpen, players that can be used as pinch runners late in games and also young players.
For a team like the Cubs, the roster moves will be used for all of those reasons, but also for one more critical one: to help bolster the team’s chances of making the postseason for the first time since 2008.
While there are plenty of players who could potentially make the jump to the big league club, there are a couple of elements to consider. First and foremost, the Cubs have an obstacle in their way that most teams don’t have to deal with: a tiny and cramped clubhouse that makes adding more than a handful of players difficult logistically. That won’t be an issue next season when the team opens their new clubhouse, which will be the second largest in MLB, but for now, giving players enough space to relax and prepare for games is important.
The other issue that the Cubs have to deal with is one of chemistry. The team has found a great blend of talented youngsters and savvy veterans as they’ve firmly cemented themselves as a playoff contender, and adding a bunch of new players to the mix could potentially alter the good vibes and good mojo the Cubs have going in their post All-Star Game run.
Even with those two things in mind, there are a handful of players that the Cubs will likely call up as soon as they are able to. In terms of hotshot young prospects that could make the jump, relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. could be looked to as a bullpen insurance policy, and infielder Javier Baez will more than likely be heading to Wrigley next week. Utility player Tommy La Stella is another player who is just about a shoe-in for a call-up as the Cubs look to give themselves more options at second and third base.
Several pitchers could also find themselves heading back to Wrigley Field, with Yoervis Medina and Zac Rosscup heading to the bullpen and Tsuyoshi Wada potentially joining Clayton Richard and Travis Wood as long relievers who can also make a spot start if necessary.
If the Cubs bring up every one of those players, they would still have nine roster spots they could utilize, but they would probably choose to only bring up another player or two so as not to have too many guys around. Arismendy Alcantara could potentially get a call-up because of his versatility as a center fielder and second baseman, and Mike Olt could come up as a guy who could spell Kris Bryant at third base.
However many players the Cubs decide to keep, this September will be a much different animal for them than the past few seasons. They will be looking for players to act as insurance policies and added depth pieces instead of youngsters looking to make a splash for a team out of playoff contention, and that is welcome news for the organization as they continue to make strides forward.