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Cubs Q&A: Roster spots, Tyler Chatwood’s role, left-handed bullpen help and leadoff duties

The Tribune’s Cubs defeat writer Mark Gonzales answers readers’ issues about the risk of a trade, options for Tyler Chatwood and the leadoff place:

What do you make of the Cubs’ roster ideal now? I depend 27 guys for the 25-male roster. Do you see a trade in the coming days/week to apparent it up or additional Triple-A Iowa shuttling this summer time? — Daniel Shepard

I see a Ton of shuttling between Iowa and Wrigley Industry. With Brandon Morrow envisioned to skip the very first four weeks and the no cost-agent departures of Jesse Chavez and Justin Wilson, appear for the bullpen to encounter continuous scrutiny.

Depth is going to perform a even larger component this period, with Jon Lester and Cole Hamels in their mid-30s, Ben Zobrist turning 38 in May and Willson Contreras coming off a period in which he caught additional than 1,100 innings and experienced no energy in the second 50 percent. There is the prospective for a trade, but it would be tricky to offer an infielder like David Bote mainly because of his flexibility, specially with Addison Russell serving the final 29 online games of his suspension and Zobrist very likely needing additional relaxation.

The Giants have to have outfielders, but a offer involving Jason Heyward could be too tough to pull off mainly because five several years and $106 million remains on his agreement.

Is there a purpose Brad Brach’s signing has not been built official but? Is it feasible he failed his bodily, are the Cubs near to a trade and have to have to make a trade to make room on the 40-male roster, or did Theo Epstein just forget about? — Justin Parks

Various several years ago a workforce that announced the no cost-agent signing of a catcher in advance of the catcher took his bodily assessment. The bodily uncovered a clinical concern, and the offer was voided.

In Brach’s circumstance, the announcement could be a formality as groups usually want to preserve their 40-male roster flexible. We saw this late previous week with Ian Clarkin getting taken off the 40-male roster in advance of the signing of Tony Barnette was announced.

In 2014, Jason Hammel threw a handful of bullpen periods at the Cubs spring complicated in workforce gear for a handful of days in advance of his signing was announced, so it’s not unheard of for groups to hold off the announcement of a no cost-agent signing.

Who is going to be the backup catcher for Willson Contreras? What are the options for Tyler Chatwood? — Joyce

I believe there is going to be an addition soon that addresses the catching depth. Very first, Contreras caught additional than 1,100 innings, and he wore down in the second 50 percent. Second, Victor Caratini is only 25 but could be squeezed by Contreras’ tenure and Caratini’s have to have to perform additional to produce.

Martin Maldonado’s identify has been pointed out, but he has caught 242 online games more than the previous two seasons and could be seeking for comparable enjoying time. Nick Hundley (who performed for typical supervisor Jed Hoyer with the Padres), A.J. Ellis and Rene Rivera are amongst the catchers nonetheless offered.

Rivera match in very well throughout his limited stint with the Cubs in 2017, so a reunion could be captivating.

As for Chatwood’s part, I see this as comparable to what Edwin Jackson encountered in 2015. Chatwood could not get the exact same innings he was certain previous spring, but he has a opportunity to stick as lengthy as he contributes.

But with the opportunity to gain the division so treasured, I can see the Cubs supplying up on him at midseason if he’s not contributing.

I guess a wholesome Yu Darvish and Kris Bryant are nearly like introducing two major-time no cost brokers, but are the Cubs going to do anything at all about the closer part, or will it be by committee right up until Brandon Morrow comes again? — Invoice Patterson

The closer part is tentatively set with Pedro Strop managing the vast majority of the closer responsibilities right up until Morrow returns. Some set up relievers cannot cope with the closer responsibilities on a limited-time period foundation, but Strop did extremely very well after Morrow was sidelined in the second 50 percent. I also can see Brach spelling Strop on event, but Brach is very well-suited for set up responsibility.

Brach, who also pitched for Hoyer in San Diego, held the closer’s part with the Orioles for sections of 2017-18 after Zach Britton was injured.

Why was Daniel Murphy dumped? — Garry Wilbur

I believe Murphy was considered simply as a limited-time period rental after it was apparent the Cubs offense was battling. I assumed Murphy did extremely very well offensively, and the Cubs could have been removed faster experienced they not acquired him.

But Murphy’s vary at second foundation was limited, and he wasn’t going to perform a great deal at very first foundation with Anthony Rizzo there. The Cubs position a premium on flexibility (and vary), and individuals variables did not help Murphy’s likelihood of returning.

I believe Murphy is going to do extremely very well with the Rockies, assuming his knee is totally healed.

Are the Cubs going to get a energy lefty for the bullpen? — Chris Myers

With Andrew Miller and Britton off the industry, the Cubs might have to have to settle for an helpful reliever who can retire left-handed batters. Right-handed reliever Tony Barnette, who held left-handed hitters to a .167 average previous period for the Rangers, could be a sleeper if he’s wholesome.

The offered no cost-agent lefties involve Jake Diekman, Tony Sipp, Xavier Cedeno, Dan Jennings, Jorge De La Rosa and Boone Logan. The Cubs might just continue to wait right up until the asking price ranges drop even additional to their liking.

The Cubs continue to dumpster dive when the division retains having stronger. Do you see them earning a meaningful go, or is this it? — Peter Marzano

I wouldn’t get in touch with the Cubs’ offseason a dumpster dive as a great deal as displaying their religion that youthful players will rebound from subpar or uneven seasons. It’s a to some degree dangerous method, but it also tells me the prospective trade return on a handful of of these guys wasn’t what they sought.

With lots of projections that have them more than the luxurious tax threshold, here’s a single thing to consider to preserve in head: throughout each of the previous four seasons, the workforce has experienced ample monetary wiggle room to up grade the roster at midseason. But with the payroll by now more than the tax threshold, do the Cubs nonetheless insert income if there is a offer that improves their likelihood to make a deep run in the postseason? I believe they would make a trade — assuming they don’t make any other substantial additions in the next three months.

Is Maddon going to perform musical chairs at the leadoff place? — Jeffrey K. Claeson

He has small option but to use multiple leadoff hitters and multiple lineups.

The only big difference from previous calendar year is that you won’t see Ian Happ at the top as a great deal as he was early previous period. With Daniel Murphy gone, this generates additional opportunities for Albert Almora. I nonetheless believe there is a state of affairs in which Ben Zobrist bats leadoff at the very least at the time a week. Maddon likes Zobrist batting at the rear of Rizzo, but the switch-hitting Zobrist can function deep counts and help his teammates. If Willson Contreras can return to his 2017 sort, I can see Zobrist hitting additional at the top.

If Bryant or Rizzo are batting leadoff, it’s an indication the offense is battling.

Is this the calendar year Albert Almora gets an everyday player? — Carole Steffensmeier Grayson

At the Cubs Convention previous month, Maddon pointed out that Almora began to strike much better towards ideal-handed pitchers. In spite of all the gripes about his lack of blazing speed or not operating deep counts, Almora batted .333 from the leadoff place and experienced a .368 on-foundation proportion — amongst the league leaders.

Almora is only 24, and he nonetheless can develop into a much better hitter. He could be much better suited as a starting off position player who could be substituted for in-sport except if the Cubs have to have a defensive substitute in the latter innings.

Can we just start off spring education? — Steve Preis

I believe we’re all in agreement that a limited playoff stint can make for a extremely, extremely lengthy offseason.

mgonzales@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @MDGonzales

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