Cubs announce 2023 Opening Day roster

March 30th, 2023

CHICAGO -- The Cubs want to turn the page on the last two years of rebuilding. The North Siders were one of baseball's busiest teams over the offseason, constructing a roster that blends experienced veterans who have won awards and titles with a younger layer of homegrown talent.

On Opening Day, the Cubs will roll out a new-look group with the goal of competing for the National League Central crown, or at least forcing its way into the October picture. It will be a team built around strong defense, solid pitching and athleticism.

"We've got real depth, which I don't think we've had in a little bit," Cubs manager David Ross said. "That's exciting, but they've still got to go out and prove it. We've all got to go out and prove it. We can talk it to death, and I know we all want to do that. But I'm a big believer in: You've got to go out and do it.

"Whether the hardware is here, the championship rings are here, the Gold Gloves, winning players all around, we still have to go out and prove it in 2023."

Here is how the Cubs' 26-man roster will look on Opening Day:

Catcher (3): , ,
Replacing an all-around, All-Star talent like Willson Contreras was going to be a big ask. When he capitalized on his free agency and signed with the rival Cardinals, the Cubs opted to go with a veteran tandem in Gomes and Barnhart, who are both heralded for their defense and game calling. Torrens offers depth at catcher, at a few infield spots and provides power off the bench.

First base (1):
The Cubs brought on the veteran Hosmer on a low-risk, one-year contract, which only required an MLB minimum salary. The lefty-swinging Hosmer projects to get the bulk of the playing time at first base, though Trey Mancini, Patrick Wisdom and Edwin Ríos also offer depth at that spot. Slugging prospect Matt Mervis is waiting in the wings in the Minors.

Second base (1):
Hoerner proved to be a more than capable everyday shortstop in 2022, but he was open to moving back to second base to accommodate the arrival of Dansby Swanson. Ross plans on giving Hoerner the keys to the leadoff spot to open the season, given his elite contact ability and speed. The Cubs just inked Hoerner to a three-year, $35 million extension through 2026.

Shortstop (1):
Swanson arrives as the new de facto face of the franchise after penning his name on a seven-year, $177 million contract (second-largest free-agent deal in Cubs history). He gives Chicago one of the game's best defenders at shortstop and has grown into an all-around offensive performer. Swanson and Hoerner will anchor what could be one of MLB's top defenses.

Third base (1):
This is a spot where Ross will likely mix and match between Wisdom and Ríos, who offer big power, and elite contact hitter Nick Madrigal. Given his recent stretch with the team, Wisdom gets the nod atop the depth chart here for now. The varying skillsets of the trio gives Ross some flexibility with how he constructs his daily lineup.

Outfielders (3): , ,
After the Dodgers parted ways with Bellinger, the Cubs pounced with a one-year, $17.5 million deal. That could be a steal, if Bellinger can stay healthy and rediscover the swing that helped him burst onto the scene early in his career. Happ is coming off a breakout '22, in which he made his first All-Star team and won a Gold Glove in left field. With right fielder Seiya Suzuki (left oblique) on the IL to start the season, Mancini looks like the most likely fit in that corner. Wisdom and super utility man Miles Mastrobuoni could also see action in right.

Bench/utility (3): , ,
Madrigal -- a second baseman by trade -- worked hard at third base this spring and showed he can be a legitimate option at the hot corner. The Cubs also like having his high-contact bat available off the bench. Ríos is an option for both infield corners and designated hitter, giving Chicago a big lefty power option. Mastrobuoni impressed the Cubs with his approach at the plate this spring and offers depth all over the infield and outfield.

Starting pitchers (5): , , , ,
Kyle Hendricks was the Cubs' Opening Day starter from 2020-22, but the veteran righty is still working his way back from a shoulder issue and is about a month behind. That paved the way for Stroman to get the nod as Chicago's rotation tone-setter on Day 1. The Cubs signed Taillon over the winter and re-signed Smyly, injecting more veteran experience to the group. Steele is coming off a standout showing in '22 that earned him staying power going into '23, while Wesneski won the No. 5 vacancy with a dominant performance down the stretch last year and again during this Spring Training.

Relief pitchers (8): , , , , , , ,
Ross remains opposed to applying the "closer" label on any of his relievers, but expect veterans Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger -- signed over the offseason -- to get the bulk of the save chances out of the chute. Assad's performance last year for the Cubs and with Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic earned him a multi-inning relief role. Expect Alzolay and Thompson to also be available for multi-inning leverage moments. The Cubs continue to be impressed with Rucker and picked up an intriguing arm in Merryweather over the offseason. With lefty Brandon Hughes on the IL to open the year, Leiter had a path to the Opening Day bullpen. The righty was dominant against lefty batters in '22 and impressed again this spring.