Predicting the Cubs Opening Day 2024 Roster
Kevin Sousa - USA Today Sports

Predicting the Cubs Opening Day 2024 Roster

by - Senior Writer -

Unless the Cubs find themselves active on the free agent or trade market in the coming days, the way the roster looks right now is most likely what it will look like come the start of Spring. With that comes the next question about what this Cubs team will look like on opening day.

Unlike past seasons, where there were more question marks than answers, this year, there are more answers than questions, but some questions remain. One falls on CF, and what happens if the Cubs don't land Cody Bellinger, while the other one remains on 3B and what the Cubs will do there. Take those away, and this team appears set for Craig Counsell's first season on the North Side as their manager.

Since the MLB expanded opening day rosters from 25 to 26 players, most teams elect to carry 13 players and 13 pitchers. In some cases, a team may go with 14 pitchers in the early part of the season, but that is very seldom the case. When it comes to the Cubs, not only are they expected to carry 13 position players out of camp, but as of now, it looks like 10 spots, if not 11 spots, are accounted for creating what could be a great competition for those final bench spots. Here is what the opening day roster could look like.

Catchers (2) Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya: Coming off the season Yan Gomes had in 2023, the Cubs had no choice but to bring him back for one more season. Granted, he is getting up there in age, but he was one of their most clutch hitters all season long and did a tremendous job working with the pitchers. There is a reason why the Cubs were a much better team with him on the field, and even if he isn't as good as last season, his presence alone will be huge.

Amaya was once viewed as the catcher of the future for this organization until a rash of injuries slowed his progress. He finally made the show last season, and although he played sparingly, he did show plenty of potential. Look for him to have an increased role this season as they groom him to take over later in the year or in 2025.

First Base (2) Michael Busch, Patrick Wisdom, or Matt Mervis:

When Free Agency began, the Cubs had a gaping hole at first base and no clear direction on how to fill it. Rhys Hoskins was the name you heard all off-season, but he elected to go to Milwaukee instead. Part of that had to do with the Cubs trading for Dodgers' former No. 2 prospect Michael Busch, who is expected to be the opening day first basemen this season.

How long he keeps that role will be up to him, but the Cubs don't have many options behind him. Wisdom seems like the most logical backup right now, but his high strikeout rate and lack of contact is infuriating at times. You also have Mervis lingering in AAA, although I expect Counsell to give him a better shake this season. This could be one of the final spots accounted for on the roster.

Second Base (1) Nico Hoerner:

Of the five spots that appear locked down, the middle of the Cubs infield will be in great shape as Hoerner will be back at second base. After moving to 2B last season and playing at a gold glove level, Hoerner is looking to take his game to the next level this season and become an even better player.

Shortstop (1) Dansby Swanson:

Like 2B, the SS position is accounted for the next six years as Swanson will be back up the middle. His first season in Chicago had its ups and downs, and if you ask him, he wasn't happy with his overall production, especially down the stretch. 2024 allows him to have a fresh start and get back to playing at his 2022 Atlanta Braves level, making him one of the more coveted free agents on the market.

Third Base (2) Nick Madrigal and Miles Mastrobuoni:

Perhaps the most significant question mark remaining on the roster is what to do at third base. Matt Chapman was linked to the Cubs all offseason and would solve those questions instantly, but until then, look for the Cubs to go with a Madrigal and Mastrobuoni platoon.

When it comes to Madrigal, say what you want about his offensive game or lack of offense, but he proved he could handle the hot corner. After making the move there during the Spring for the first time last season, Madrigal not only impressed but played at an elite level most of the season. He could wind up in the Gold Glove conversation this season if he stays healthy.

Mastrobuoni, on the other hand, is more of a utility guy and will most likely fill in all across the infield. However, most of his starts will come at the hot corner as he started to get into a nice rhythm late in the season once he got more playing time.

Outfield (3) Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, and Mike Tauchman:

Happ and Suzuki will anchor down the corner spots for the third straight season, leaving an opening in CF. As the roster sits right now, Tauchman would get the nod in center after putting together a very impressive season last year.

You also have other guys in the mix, who we will talk about later, as do you have Alexander Canario in AAA, who could provide a nice spark off the bench. Either way, the Cubs need to make sure they play some of these young guys once they are called up, or there is no point in calling them up.

Utility (1) Christopher Morel:

After struggling to find a role with the team in 2022, Morel was back in the bigs in 2023 and put on quite a show. However, it will once again be his lack of defense and not having an actual position that does him in. Or does it?

With the National League adopting the DH four seasons ago, it created opportunities for players who may not have had a position to at least get their bat in the lineup. That is what has happened with Morel, as his lack of a position makes it hard to play him in the field, but you can't take his bat out of this lineup. Counsell feels the same and has already said that Morel will be in some capacity every day, with many expecting that to be a DH role.

Final Roster spot: Pete Crow-Armstrong or Cody Bellinger:

We have given 12 names above as the most likely locks on this team, leaving one additional opening. That opening isved for Bellinger, as many anticipate the free agent will eventually pick the Cubs to continue his playing career.

Should Bellinger not return, or barring some serious injuries, the final roster spot will come down to the final days of Spring where Crow-Armstrong has a shot. His defense and speed are MLB-ready, but his bat isn't, which he will be working on in Spring. Regardless, PCA is a massive part of the Cubs future, and once he returns to this roster, there is the likelihood that he will be here for good.

Part two of this series coming tomorrow.

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