first cut is the deepestThey were the camp darlings, at least from the fans’ perspectives, but Javier Baez and Jorge Soler have been cut from big league Spring Training, and will head over to Fitch to do the minor league thing the rest of the way. Neither was going to make the team, and it’s time for the big leaguers to start getting regular time in Cactus League games.

Also cut were third baseman Josh Vitters and Christian Villanueva. Once again, neither was going to make the big team out of Spring Training. Villanueva will head, presumably, to Tennessee to be the main man at third base, and Vitters will move all around at Iowa. He’ll see a lot of time at third base (especially early in the year while Junior Lake recovers from his broken rib), but I think the Cubs have realized that he’s going to need some versatility if he’s going to contribute meaningfully at the big league level in the future.

Catcher Rafael Lopez also was sent to minor league camp.

Although Baez and Soler are headed to minor league Spring Training, you could still see them in Cactus League games when the Cubs have a need. For example, it sounds like both will still play with the big club tomorrow, and Baez is starting today.

Today’s cuts might, like, technically be tomorrow’s cuts. I haven’t received an actual announcement from the Cubs yet, but the transaction wire shows the Soler and Villanueva moves, and the beat writers in Mesa are tweeting about the moves – so I reckon the Cubs informed them in person, and the announcement is forthcoming.

(The Cubs packaged this announcement together with word of Junior Lake and Barret Loux’s cuts, but they’ve already been discussed here.)

  • nkniacc13

    looks like Baez is starting today

    • Brett

      Indeed he is.

  • Kramden

    Sounds to me either the Cubs or you have cut their expectations of Vitters considerably and we can all come to grips that he was a wasted early 1st round draft pick.

    • Ramon

      How is he a wasted pick? Vitters is only 21 or 22 years old.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      He will be 24 this August, and in his seventh year in the minor leagues. And when I watch him, he looks like he is playing in a Sunday softball league game. Got some big money early, and it looks like that was good enough for Josh. Put up or shut up time.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Money has nothing to do with it. Vitters was born without a batting eye but the prior regime believed that guys can grow these. Vitter’s contact skills are quite good, but they need to be astoundingly good with his batting eye.

      • Dustin S

        Vitters is a kind of an odd situation. He tore up every level of the minors including Iowa last year before he was called up, but he has looked completely bewildered and clueless at the plate since then. On a slow day he’d almost be worthy of a BN article write-up by himself. I’m not sure if he lost all confidence after his call up went so badly or if he has other personal issues going on. I know he’s been hurt this ST, so I’m going off of last year after his call-up, his winter ball, and what little he’s played this spring. They aren’t giving up on him yet, but it sounds like his ceiling is in the Jeff Baker category now at best. A bad 2013 at Iowa and he might be selling insurance or cars soon. Villanueva will probably go to AA this year and would bump Vitters at Iowa next year if he stays on track.

      • X The Cubs Fan

        He was drafted in 2007, this is his 5th minors season and he’s still got that quick/compact swing scouts fell in love with.

    • RoughRiider

      Vitters is only 23 years old and has lost considerable time to injuries. I don’t believe it’s time to give up on him. He may or may not be the answer at 3rd but he certainly has a chance to be a productive player in the majors.
      Having said that, the Cubs haven’t been real productive, percentage wise, in first round selections over the history of the draft. They’ve had about a 10 -15 % succes rate depending on your definition of success.

  • Don

    No sense rushing Báez or Soler. 2014 or 2015 both will be regulars. These guys are both special talents and will be stars that lead the Cubs to World titles in the future. Be patient Cub fans!!

  • db kyle

    Anyone have a list of who is left? I’m very curious where we stand with the bullpen.

    • Brett

      There are 46 left … would have to piece together to get the full list. Most of the bullpen competitors – the Bowden/Putnam/Dolis/Takahashi/Rusin/Chapman types – are still around.

      • db kyle

        What do you make of the fact that Takahsha is being stretched out as a starter?

        I don’t think Bowden’s in competition. They can’t send him down.

        • Brett

          I think Cubs want to see Takahashi against the other team’s starters, for one thing (since he’s pretty clearly under serious consideration for the pen as the kind of guy who could become a minor flippable piece). But it feels like they might be considering a lefty long-man to set against a mostly right-handed rotation. (And they probably hate their 8th/9th rotation options right now.) I kind of like that idea. Plus, when he’s not been used in a while, Takahashi could be a very good LOOGY, too. Sure feels like we’re going to see one of Takahashi or Rusin make the bullpen.

          (But, when Garza and Baker come back, this all gets really muddy unless there’s been a trade or more injuries.)

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  • Die hard

    The stars are aligning for Stewart to the Mets as their backup to Wright went down…..