Your 25-Man Roster Guess
The Cubs made two handfuls of expected cuts yesterday which included optioning Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Arismendy Alcantara, Logan Watkins, Matt Szczur, Jeudy Valdez, Carlos Pimentel and Eric Jokisch...releasing Aaron Cunningham brings it up to 10. That leaves camp with 56, but only 25 get to travel and we know many still there are just getting their work in. So let's take a best guess at the 25-man Opening Day Roster.
C: Castillo, Kottaras with John Baker trying to bump Kottaras
INF: Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Valbuena, Murphy
OF: Schierholtz, Lake, Sweeney, Ruggiano
That leaves 2 spots open presuming they go with the standard 13 and it seems Mike Olt, Emilio Bonifacio, Ryan Roberts and Ryan Kalish are your 4 best bets to get those 2 spots. Of course, there's also the hot-hitting Javier Baez and if Castro's hamstring injury doesn't clear up soon, it wouldn't be implausible that he's your starting shortstop on Opening Day, but that would open up a spot with Castro on the disabled list so it shouldn't effect the bench much. It does seem that Mike Olt is working his way to a starting 3b gig and my guess that would mean the end of either Valbuena or Murphy. If I had to guess now, it would be Olt starting at 3b, Murphy getting cut with Bonifacio and Roberts getting the last 2 spots and Kalish accepting a minor league assignment, but a lot can change the last few weeks of spring training.
SP: Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Hammel (1 spot open)
RP: Veras, Strop, Wright, Russell, Villanueva (2 spots open...3 if Villanueva starts)
Jake Arrieta should be the final starter, but it doesn't look like he'll be ready, leaving a spot open for Kyle Hendricks, James McDonald, Chris Rusin or Carlos Villanueva. If Villanueva takes the 5th starter job, which would be my guess at the moment, that'll open up a spot in the pen where the candidate list is anything but short.
In some order of expectedness...
A. Cabrera, Grimm, Rondon, Parker, Rosscup, J. Sanchez, Rosscup, N. Ramirez and whomever I'm forgetting.
Cabrera might seem like a surprise, but seems to have pitched well enough and is out of options, giving him a boost.. The rest will be based off spring performance and Grimm seems to be the leader of that group. Ramirez has had a few good outings, but he hasn't had much success past AA yet, so I think it would have to be overwhelming for him to make th team out of Arizona. We'll see about the rest, Rondon and Parker seemed like favorites before spring training started, but haven't pitched well so far. And of course it's always important to note, that the pen you start out with is never the pen you end up with. The pieces will certainly shift accordingly.
LOCKED IN (MOST LIKELY) - 18
Castillo, Kottaras, Rizzo, Castro, Barney, Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Lake, Sweeney
Samardzija, Wood, E. Jackson, Hammel
Veras, Strop, Wright, Russell, Carlos Villanueva
DISABLED LIST - 2
ON THE BUBBLE - 16
Valbuena, Murphy, Olt, Roberts(NRI), Bonifacio(NRI), Kalish (NRI), C. Rusin, Hendricks(NRI), J. McDonald (NRI), A. Cabrera, Grimm, Rondon, Parker, Rosscup, J. Sanchez (NRI), Ramirez
MOST LIKELY CUT OR OPTIONED - 22
J. Vitters, B. Jackson, Baez (NRI), Christian Villanueva, Beeler, A. Vizcaino, J. Baker (NRI), L. Flores (NRI), E. Whiteside (NRI), R. Lopez (NRI), W. Remillard (NRI), D. McDonald(NRI), M. Maier(NRI), Wells(NRI), Coughlan(NRI), M. Hatley (NRI), Hottovy (NRI), Yong-Lim (NRI), Rivero (NRI), Schlitter (NRI), Wada (NRI), Valaika (NRI)
ALREADY OPTIONED OR RELEASED - 10
Soler, Bryant, Almora, Alcantara, Szczur, Watkins, Valdez(NRI), Pimentel(NRI), Jokisch(NRI), A. Cunningham
For some reason, I'm getting 58 players left versus Muskat's assertion of 56. My guess is Arizona Phil can clear that up pretty quick, but if I were to hazard a guess, the original story on the non-roster invitees has L. Flores and W. Remillard as catchers that will assist at times, rather than actually invitees as Phil has listed on the sidebar.