Their starting rotation might be set, but there are still questions surrounding the relief corps for the Chicago Cubs. Although they spent a great deal of time upgrading their pitching depth, most of that depth is going to be in Iowa getting regular starts to begin the year.
The fact that Jeff Samardzija locked up a spot in the rotation, where few expected he would or should be, has also helped to leave the bullpen a bit shorthanded. Shark was looking at a potential late inning role before he dazzled us this spring.
We do know the guys that will make up the bullpen as of right now. Both Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood have been locked into their respective roles as closer and primary setup man, even with their struggles and injuries this spring. James Russell stands, as of right now, as the lone lefty in the ‘pen and could end up replacing Sean Marshall as the late inning southpaw.
The only other one who pretty much has a spot locked down is Rafael Dolis, who has been very strong this spring. That leaves three spots open for not only guys still on the roster fighting for a job, but any outside help the Cubs could bring in.
Manny Corpas, Shawn Camp, and Rule 5 draft pick Lendy Castillo are all fighting for a spot, while Rodrigo Lopez is considered the favorite to grab a role as the long man out of the ‘pen, with both Randy Wells and Travis Wood ending up in Iowa to start the year.
That’s not exactly an exciting group, but it’s not terrible either. Nonetheless, the Cubs are very likely going to be searching around the league to add another arm to the bullpen. Unfortunately for the Cubs, most of the rest of the league is as well.
The Cubs are rumored to be fielding phone calls for guys like Marlon Byrd and Randy Wells. Though neither is expected to bring back a big return, the Cubs could possibly seek an arm for the ‘pen, and grab a low level prospect at the same time. Perhaps a name like Koji Uehara, who the Texas Rangers are shopping, could interest the Cubs, though he’s old and coming off of a poor spring. He’s a name that has popped up before.
Ultimately, the Cubs will likely stick with the group they have, and pick out of those guys to fill out the rest of the bullpen. Corpas has been strong lately and they do seem to like Lendy Castillo, who would have to make the Opening Day roster given his status as a Rule 5 guy. But the Cubs’ front office will certainly have their ear to the ground prior to Thursday and could end up seriously considering trying to nab another arm before Opening Day.