2023 Cubs Opening Day roster
The Cubs finalized their 26-man roster ahead of their Opening Day matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Here’s the full roster, by position group:
RHP Marcus Stroman, LHP Justin Steele, RHP Jameson Taillon, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Hayden Wesneski
Injured list – RHP Kyle Hendricks (15-day)
The rookie Wesneski won the team’s fifth starter role in camp following an impressive display in Arizona in which he posted a 2.12 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 5 games, beating out Adrian Sampson, who pitched well for the Cubs down the stretch in 2022. The rest of the rotation was as expected with Stroman headlining the group and being tasked with setting the Cubs off on the right foot.
RHP Michael Fulmer, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Julian Merryweather, RHP Adbert Alzolay, RHP Keegan Thompson, RHP Javier Assad, RHP Michael Rucker, RHP Mark Leiter Jr.
Injured list – LHP Brandon Hughes (15-day), RHP Codi Heuer (60-day), RHP Ethan Roberts (60-day)
There were a few more position battles amongst the Cubs’ bullpen corps and they intensified with some injuries and strong performances. Assad had a stellar performance in the World Baseball Classic, shutting down potent Team USA and Puerto Rico lineups. Those outings gave him an inside position into a bullpen spot, a la Thompson last year.
Leiter had his contract selected and was added to the 40-man earlier today and will serve primarily as the team’s top option against left-handed hitters. Lefties hit just .176/.243/.328 against him in 2022. Leiter was stellar in relief for the Cubs in 2022, posting a 2.87 ERA and a 1.031 WHIP and picking up 3 saves.
Rucker was strong for the Cubs during the second half last season, posting a 2.93 ERA in 26 games and was solid this spring again, pitching to a 3.38 ERA.
Fulmer, Boxberger and Merryweather are likely to get the bulk of the Cubs’ leverage innings, with Thompson joining Assad in a multi-inning role.
Hughes had left knee inflammation, so the Cubs placed him on the IL to start the season, with a backdate of March 27.
Yan Gomes, Tucker Barnhart (L), Luis Torrens
The biggest surprise of the roster was Torrens, the 26-year-old catcher who went under the radar all spring and will serve as the team’s third catcher. He should provide some relief for the veteran backstops and has power in his bat that can serve in a pinch-hitter capacity.
Dansby Swanson, Nico Hoerner, Edwin Ríos (L), Eric Hosmer (L), Trey Mancini, Patrick Wisdom, Nick Madrigal, Miles Mastrobuoni (L)
The Cubs traded Zach McKinstry to Detroit on Monday and opted to go with Mastrobuoni for that final bench spot. The lefty hit well for Italy in the WBC (.278/.316/.389) and even better with the Cubs in Arizona (.350/.500/.350). Mastrobuoni can play across the infield and in the corner outfield spots, giving them much-needed versatility.
Madrigal, Ríos and Wisdom are expected to split the time at third base and Mastrobuoni, Wisdom and Mancini can play right field while Seiya Suzuki recovers from a left oblique injury. Mancini and Hosmer will likely platoon at first base and either can man the DH spot, too.
Swanson and Hoerner — fresh off his new, 3-year extension — will man the Cubs’ middle infield.
Ian Happ (S), Cody Bellinger (L)
Injury – Seiya Suzuki (10-day)
The Cubs will have two-thirds of their projected starting outfield ready for Opening Day, with Suzuki beginning the season on the IL. A pair of Gold Glovers, Happ and Bellinger provide defensive security in the pasture and will be middle-of-the-order bats for David Ross. The Cubs will hope a change of scenery and working with familiar faces can help Bellinger rediscover some of the form that made him the NL MVP in 2017.