first cut is the deepestToday the Chicago Cubs announced another round of roster cuts. Going out today are five pitchers and one positional player, none of whom were likely to make the Opening Day roster, but we’re starting to get to guys that could have played themselves onto it.

The position player, Logan Watkins, was the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, and he’ll head to AAA Iowa this year to get his at bats, and likely be the regular second baseman there. He can play all over if the Cubs need him to, so they may continue to cultivate some flexibility. Still, he’ll see most of his starts at second.

Alberto Cabrera and Brooks Raley were each legitimate contenders for a roster spot entering into the Spring (depending on injuries, adaptation to new roles, etc.), but each had a terrible go of it in Cactus League games. The Cubs are looking to convert Cabrera back into a starting pitcher, so he’s likely to claim a rotation spot at Iowa to start the year. Raley, who started a bit for the Cubs late last year, is likely to start at Iowa as well, though the Cubs may, at some point, see what he can do out of the bullpen. It’s fixing to be a very crowded rotation at Iowa – complete with another starter who was cut today, the 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Nick Struck.

Also sent out was starting pitcher Robert Whitenack, who’ll look to rebound after a rehabby/not-great-performance-y 2012 season. He had Tommy John surgery midway through a very successful 2011 season, and is likely to start the year at AA Tennessee or High-A Daytona, depending on weather and needs. Given that he’s already on the 40-man roster, I’d think the Cubs will want to see him at AA sooner rather than later.

Trey McNutt was also cut today. He had a fringe shot at a bullpen spot, but no one expected him to actually grab one quite yet. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s put back in the rotation to start the year a AA or AAA, but I’m thinking the Cubs will want to see how he looks as a full-time reliever. He’s got the stuff for it.

All of the players cut today are legitimate prospects, and potential big leaguers (depending on the role). The fact that they were sent out this early is not necessarily indicative of their poor performance or a bleak future. The Cubs likely just want these legitimate (but not tip top) prospects to start getting in their regular work at minor league camp. It’s time for them, too, to start getting ready for the season.

The Spring roster stands at 53 after today’s cuts.

  • TWC

    Nick Stuck got cut? ZOMG!

    Die hard must be sobbing quietly to himself in the corner.

    • DarthHater

      Isn’t that his normal state anyway?

    • Die hard

      Struck will be up by All Star break….. too good to keep down

  • Rice Cube

    Nice cover photo. Well played, sir.

  • CubFan Paul

    any word on McNutt’s blister issue this Spring? ..i think it was a blister that bugged/limited him last year

  • Noah

    I love how there was so much news about Baez and Soler having their time in MLB spring training coming to an end, yet they survive the second cut. And please don’t take that as an implication that I think they have ANY chance, or SHOULD have any chance of making the team. I’d be shocked if their not down in minor league camp a week from now. But I just found it funny that the Chicago media went crazy with that story this weekend.

  • Jim

    Travis Wood has pitched himself into the rotation. Because of this I think you put Brooks Raley in the bull pen and if a lefty reliever is needed at some point in the season, hopefully he can fill that spot.

    • brickhouse

      Raley is dropping in the rankings of Cubs lefties. I would put Rusin as the left candidate if needed later in the season.

  • MightyBear

    Paul Sullivan ‏@PWSullivan

    Cubs cuts: McNutt, Raley, Watkins Cabrera optioned to Iowa; Whitenack to Tenn; Struck to minor league camp. Roster at 53

    Is there significance that Struck went to Minor league camp instead of AAA Iowa? Please help somebody.

    • Brett

      No significance at all. It’s simply because he wasn’t on the 40-man.

      • MightyBear

        Ah, of course. Thank you again o’ wise but tired sage.

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