The Third Cut is the Back-Up Catcher Information-iest: Lobaton, Ryan, Marquez, Steele, Norwood Among Cubs Cuts

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The Third Cut is the Back-Up Catcher Information-iest: Lobaton, Ryan, Marquez, Steele, Norwood Among Cubs Cuts

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs announced their next round of roster cuts today from Spring Training, with pitchers Kyle Ryan, James Norwood, Brailyn Marquez, Joe Biagini, and Justin Steele sent out. On the positional side, catcher Jose Lobaton, and outfielders Michael Hermosillo, Ian Miller, and Nick Martini were cut (Bastian). They’ll all head to minor league camp for now, unless they have an earlier opt-out they can exercise.

The Lobaton cut is particularly notable, since it means P.J. Higgins will be the Cubs’ back-up catcher if Austin Romine (knee) is unable to go by Opening Day. Good for Higgins, who’s been developing over the years as a versatile type, who can hit a bit, catch a bit, and play the corners. The Cubs will eventually need to open a 40-man roster spot for him, but once he’s on there, they can shuttle him up and down from Triple-A.

Martini, Miller, and Hermosillo were not going to win a bench job once Cameron Maybin arrived and Jake Marisnick got healthy (to say nothing of the strong performance by Rafael Ortega, and the crowded second base group). It would be nice if each remains in the organization, though, because the Cubs’ outfield depth behind the starters is just about non-existent at the upper levels.

Marquez must have gotten himself healthy enough to be optioned out, and now it’s just a question of where he starts his minor league season (Double-A rotation, perhaps?). Steele was also not going to make the team, and is a big question on where he’ll begin the year and in what role.

Norwood, Ryan, and Biagini all had legit shots at making the bullpen, but having options left (Ryan and Norwood) and/or being on a minor league deal (Biagini) always make it a little tougher in a crowded competition. Ryan was also delayed by the COVID protocols upon arrival. He figures to be up at some point this year, and ditto Norwood. With Biagini, who’s had big league success, it’s a question of whether he sticks around or ultimately heads out to find another deal.

After today’s nine cuts, I’ve got the Cubs’ spring roster down to 38, which means 12 more to go.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.