The Third Cut is the Bullpenniest: Five Arms and Two Catchers Sent Out

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The Third Cut is the Bullpenniest: Five Arms and Two Catchers Sent Out

Chicago Cubs

There are just three days left of big league Spring Training, so the cuts will necessarily have to come fast and furious. Seven more hopefuls were sent out today.

The seven players sent to minor league camp today: righties Manny Rodriguez, Adrian Sampson, Mark Leiter Jr., Eric Yardley, and Cayne Ueckert, and catchers John Hicks and P.J. Higgins. It’s the first time we’re seeing some guys cut who could have realistically made the Opening Day roster.

Specifically, there was a good shot Rodriguez would make the opening bullpen, especially on an expanded roster, but having options left kinda works against him. We will see Rodriguez up this year, without question – it’s only a matter of when. In the meantime, him being cut at this point is a further suggestion that the Cubs might go, initially, with 14 pitchers and 14 position players to open the season, and then will bring up an extra arm after the first series or so. Maybe that guy will be Rodriguez, since he’s already on the 40-man.

Among the guys who were cut today who were in on non-roster invites, you really could have made a case for any of the pitchers to make the team. Ueckert is a future stud, and he’ll see big league time eventually. Yardley has had big league success, and he might be back up soon enough if he doesn’t opt out. Sampson and Leiter are starting depth, which the Cubs may not need just yet, but could come in time (and each has minor league options remaining).

I think the case for Scott Effross and Ethan Roberts to make the Opening Day bullpen just got stronger with today’s moves, though it isn’t quite yet an unholy lock. It kinda also depends on whether Mychal Givens and David Robertson are fully ramped up and ready to go by Opening Day, whether the Cubs want to give a spot to a non-roster guy like Jonathan Holder, and also whether the Cubs prefer to give Michael Rucker one of the early shots (among the group of young arms with options). I think Effross probably got the biggest boost today, since Yardley was a fellow righty sidearmer.

After today’s cuts, the big league spring roster is down to 36. Eight more cuts to go before Thursday’s opener.

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.