The Cubs Are Still Planning to Add Another Reliever – Let’s Talk 40-Man Considerations For Next Week

With more minor league deals signed and non-roster invitations to Spring Training having been sent out, it’s fair to check back in on the state of the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen search in free agency. They’re still looking to land one more sure-thing guy, right?

Yes.

Patrick Mooney reiterates that the Cubs are “planning to add another reliever” before the first formal workout next week (when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training). So you can safely assume advanced conversations have taken place, and it’s just a matter of either final decisions being made or final i’s and t’s to dot and cross.

We’ve been over this at length, and the market is still loaded with quality options. I would be very happy with any of Andrew Chafin, Zack Britton, Matt Moore, Will Smith, Brad Hand, or Michael Fulmer, and there are still a couple flier guys left that I think could be really interesting. (Though, again, I’m mostly interested in seeing the Cubs get one more sure-fire, yes-he’s-obviously-on-the-roster type.)

At this point, I’m sure the hope is to get an agreement in place – assuming a handshake isn’t already done – by this weekend. That would allow time for the physical at the start of the week, and then the signing can become officially official in time for the first formal workout.

That officially official move, in turn, can come after the Cubs move a guy to the 60-day IL (relievers Codi Heuer and Ethan Roberts are almost certain to be out the first 60+ days of the regular season as they recover from Tommy John surgery, so those are just free 40-man spots waiting to be opened up). Then the Cubs don’t have to put anyone else on waivers to accommodate a new relief addition.

Reminder: players can hit the 60-day IL as soon as Spring Training begins (thus taking them temporarily off the 40-man roster), but their 60 days of counting – the minimum absence – doesn’t start until Opening Day.

Speaking of those 60-day IL moves: if the Cubs want to open up additional slots (maybe for more waiver claims of their own, for example), they could also put Kyle Hendricks on the 60-day IL if they don’t think he’ll be ready within the first two months (he’s throwing, but his ramp-up from the shoulder rehab is expected to be cautious and is very unlikely to have him ready to go for the start of the season). Further, we know that Alexander Canario will definitely miss the first two months, and he’s also on the 40-man. The rub with moving him to the 60-day IL is that he gets big league service time at that point and big league pay. So you would see the Cubs make that move only if they were EXTREMELY eager to (1) add someone off of waivers or in free agency, and (2) felt they absolutely could not risk losing anyone else off the 40-man.

Lastly, the super un-fun one: almost every year, at least one player shows up to camp already having been dealing with a long-term injury we outsiders didn’t know about yet, *OR* suffers a bigger injury once he starts ramping up his throwing or running. So that mystery guy might also wind up on the 60-day IL early in spring. Here’s hoping this is one of those years where that doesn’t happen.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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