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The Cubs are taking a big-picture approach to the 60-man roster

1 week agoTony Andracki

When the Cubs unveiled their initial summer camp roster Sunday afternoon, it held only 50 spots between the group at Wrigley Field and the one at South Bend, Indiana instead of the allotted 60.

That was by design.

Under the new MLB roster rules for this season, if a player is taken off the 60-man roster, he cannot be added back on. So instead of filling the roster to the brim to start, the Cubs left themselves some flexibility.

“The more we talked and the more we got familiar with the rules, we felt like the right thing to do was leave space,” GM Jed Hoyer said in a Zoom conference Monday. “You can add a player anytime; there’s no restrictions to adding players. But taking a guy off the 60 requires a real transaction, so a release, an outright, a trade.

“We can get to camp, get a feel for our guys, get a feel for our depth and if we get to a place where we feel like we need more major-league depth, we can pivot in that direction. If we get to a place where we feel like we can add a few more prospects to our list, then we can do that as well. But we sort of felt like, why pigeon-hole ourselves now? Why not leave that flexibility of 10 [roster spots]?

“We’re doing something for the first time, so why not dip your toe in the water a little bit. And then we can pivot from there in the right direction. We just don’t know exactly what the right direction is gonna be as we sit here today.”

Teams around baseball can use the backup squad of players to get some work in for their top prospects. It would be practicing and competing against others within the organization, but it’s at least some development in a summer without minor league baseball.

[READ: Projecting the Cubs’ 30-man roster]

The backup unit also serves as a feeder system to the big-league club in case of injury or illness. So once summer camp starts to wind down, the Cubs can either start filling those remaining 10 roster spots with guys to address depth concerns or top prospects that aren’t expected to make an impact in Chicago at all this year.

Burl Carraway is an intriguing potential addition to the 60-man roster. The Cubs’ 2nd-round pick earlier this month, Carraway is a left-handed reliever who may be polished enough to join the big-league bullpen in August or September. The organization loves his fastball-breaking ball combination and competitiveness.

To this point, the Cubs are not anticipating any additional wrinkles to the roster by players opting out of the season. A few players around the league informed their teams Monday of their decision to sit this year out.

“We have not had anyone that’s talked to us about opting out as we sit here today,” Hoyer said Monday afternoon. “But that said, I’ve seen in the last hour or so that three players around the league have opted out. I’m sure there will be more. I feel like we have to respect that.

“…Right now, we don’t have anyone we know about that’s considering it. But I think if we did, we would respect the decision and understand that this is being made from a very important place of wanting to keep either themselves or keep their family members safe.”

Hoyer also said two “Tier 1” staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus and are going to be delayed arriving to summer camp at Wrigley Field. But thus far, no player has tested positive.

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