Chicago Cubs Roster News: Tauchman, Elias, Torrens, Hughes, Wick, Rucker, More (UPDATE)
Updating the below for a couple things that became official today. Christopher Morel was optioned to Triple-A Iowa, where it was earlier reported that he would start the season. Rowan Wick was already waived, cleared waivers, and has been outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. So, if he accepts the assignment, the Cubs get to keep him in the org (and he keeps his $1.55 million contract), but he’s off the 40-man roster.
To that point, the Cubs cleared two 40-man spots today, having outrighted Wick and traded Zach McKinstry. One of those spots is expected to go to Luis Torrens, and the other could go to an additional reliever like Mark Leiter Jr. or Ryan Borucki.
*Original post follows*
The first headline news today was Javier Assad making the Opening Day bullpen, but that’s not the only Cubs roster news to share.
- The Cubs sent out Mike Tauchman from big league camp, which had become the increasingly good guess with word that Seiya Suzuki could return much sooner than expected. Like I wrote this morning:
(I)f you aren’t going to be without Suzuki for multiple weeks to begin the season, you’re probably much less inclined to add Mike Tauchman to the 26-man Opening Day roster, knowing that it means you have to bump someone from the 40-man roster. You could easily fill those six games in right field in other ways, and then you don’t have to risk losing someone from the organization – especially if Tauchman would be sent out as soon as Suzuki returned.
Instead, if Suzuki is expected to miss only six or so games, it could mean the Cubs would be all the more likely to give that bench spot/40-man spot to someone who fills a totally different type of role (a Luis Torrens type, for example, who offers right-handed power off the bench, and who can play in the infield in addition to catching; or a Ben DeLuzio type who offers premium speed and outfield defense off the bench).
- From the sound of things, the answer there is going to be Torrens. Sahadev Sharma today reports that Torrens, a catcher who can also play the corner infield spots, is “likely” to make the team. The 26-year-old former top prospect is on a minor league deal, but with the ability to opt-out soon, the Cubs don’t want to lose him. He started to really put it together at the plate in 2021, and he’s looked quite powerful there this spring. So you keep him, see how the mix works with three catchers on the roster (having Torrens available to pinch-hit for Tucker Barnhart is a plus), and then figure out what to do when Suzuki returns when that day arrives.
- That picture up top is Torrens, by the way, in case you needed another reason to support him being on the team.
- Meanwhile, lefty Roenis Elias was sent out to minor league camp today, together with Tauchman. Elias figures to be starting depth until and unless he opts out of his minor league deal at some point.
- Speaking of lefties, this sure seems to indicate the Cubs are thinking of starting the season with Brandon Hughes on the IL:
- Keeping him out of game action would allow the Cubs to IL him and backdate it three days so he misses only a week. That seems to be the best guess, at which point Ryan Borucki making the team seems all the more likely.
- In his roster prediction today, Sharma indicates that Michael Rucker is a lock for the bullpen, while Borucki, Mark Leiter Jr, and Tyler Duffey are among the guys on the fence. Leiter feels closer to “likely” than a fence guy to me, though the Cubs will have to open up a 40-man spot for him (and for Borucki, if he makes it, too). Duffey has always felt like he had a good chance because of his long track record of success in the big leagues, but I don’t see the Cubs adding THREE non-roster relievers at this point (bouncing three more guys from the 40-man), so someone is not going to make it.
- But speaking of opening up 40-man spots, Maddie Lee writes that Rowan Wick is “likely” going to hit waivers at some point, opening up a 40-man spot. Wick still has the upside that I’ve gotta believe some team would claim him, but maybe the $1.55 million salary will be too much for teams? If so, Wick would clear waivers and then could be outrighted to Iowa – still in the organization, but off the 40-man for now. (I’m assuming he would accept the assignment, a la David Bote, so that he can keep his contract.)