At the conclusion of the Cubs’ Wedensday game, manager Dale Sveum, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, among others, gathered to finalize the Cubs’ opening day 25-man roster. The Cubs have yet to name all their final roster moves, but many announcements have been since made.
Roster questions focused on naming the last spot in the starting rotation, finalizing the bullpen and determining a backup catcher between a Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger battle.
Announced on Thursday, the Cubs starting rotation will feature (in order) Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, first time starter Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm.
Coming into the day only one rotation spot remained. Claiming the spot was the 27 year-old Samardzija who pitched exclusively in the bullpen last season. The right-hander capped off his personal best spring throwing six scoreless frames against the Indians on Wednesday.
With the rotation determined and bullpen questions looming, the Cubs optioned Randy Wells to Triple-A Iowa. The right-hander, who was 7-6 with a 4.99 ERA last season, will earn $2.7 million this season – some view his demotion as a surprise.
Pitcher Travis Wood was also among the names cut Thursday by the Cubs.
With the demotion of Wells and Wood, the bullpen remains unresolved. Two spots are still open between Rodrigo Lopez, Manny Corpas, Frankie De La Cruz and Lendy Castillo.
Lopez, who was in contention for a starting role much of spring, is felt to be the favorite to earn a long relief role.
At catcher, Steve Clevenger earned the backup job over Welington Castillo, while one-time long-shot and non-roster invitee Joe Mather will join utility man Blake DeWitt as names on the Cubs roster.
Earning the job through mixed spouts of major-league hitting and versatility, Mather’s call-up will see Tony Campana be sent down.
Other names optioned to Minor League camp are Scott Maine, Casey Coleman, Dave Sappelt. Blake Parker, Blake Lalli, Matt Tolbert and Edgar Gonzalez.