Cubs 40-man pitching depth
The Winter Meetings officially start on Monday and the Cubs head to National Harbor, Maryland, looking to shore up their pitching staff—a fifth starter, a closer and bullpen depth are on the list.
Cubs pitching staff on the 40-man roster has undergone several changes since the final out of the World Series but the core of the league’s top rotation is back for 2017. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey return and the Cubs must find a fifth starter before opening day.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery is the current front runner but the Cubs front office said they would like to add young arms over the next two years. Arrieta and Lackey both have their contracts expire after the 2017 season. LH Rob Zastryzny has an outside shot of earning the nod but could contribute out of the bullpen and fill the role left by Travis Wood’s free agency. Left-handers Brian Duensing and Jack Leathersich are the only other south paws on the roster so look for the signing of more lefties in the near future.
Chapman is not expected to return to Chicago and that has the North Siders shopping for a closer, unless they want to return Hector Rondon to the role. The Cubs may be grooming Carl Edwards, Jr. but the 25-year-old only has 40.2 big league innings under his belt.
Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm return to anchor middle relief and Felix Pena may make the 25-man roster out of spring training. Right-hander Jake Buchanan, Pierce Johnson Jose Rosario, and Aaron Brooks provide depth for the Cubs and will likely start the year in Iowa. Duane Underwood was added to the 40-man roster to be protected from Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.
Venezuelan Winter League
No Cubs prospects saw action.
Dominican Winter League
3B Chesny Young (.429) went 1-for-3 with a walk in Escogido’s 6-2 loss to Aguilas. Former Cubs farmhand Juan Perez (.296) knocked in three runs for the winners......Couple of former Cubs prospects were in the middle of the scoring of Estrellas’ 6-4 win over Licey. CF Junior Lake (.282) went doubled, walked and scored a run for Estrellas while 3B Marco Hernandez (.266) slugged his first winter league homered and finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Lake was traded to the Orioles back in 2015 for relief pitcher Tommy Hunter while Hernandez was shipped to Boston in December of 2014 for LHP Felix Doubront. Lake is currently a free agent and spent last season playing for Toronto (.200/.282/.371, 22 G) and Hernandez made his MLB debut in 2016 for the Red Sox (.294/.357/.373, 40 G).
Mexican Pacific Winter League
With Christian Villanueva officially becoming a free agent, the Cubs have no prospects playing in the league.
Puerto Rican Winter League
RH Corey Black picked up his 10th save, best in the PRWL, with a 1-2-3 ninth, retiring two on strikes and lowering his ERA to 0.56 ERA. Black was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and his performance in Puerto Rico could earn him a shot with another organization come Thursday.....1B Yasiel Balaguert (.292) went 0-for-4 and scored once in Carolina’s 3-1 loss to Caguas.