Forecasting the Cubs' 2022 40-man roster

October 26th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The Cubs are not heading into this offseason with an entirely blank canvas, but the wave of franchise-altering deals in July stripped down the roster, giving the front office a chance to pivot in multiple directions.

"I definitely want to field a team that's competitive next year," Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said recently.

The Cubs have multiple needs -- rotation help and an impact bat top the list -- and the team plans to be active in free agency in the coming months. To have a sense of how Chicago will proceed, a good place to start is examining the foundation in place.

With that in mind, here is a rundown of the Cubs' roster as it stands now, with a focus on the 40-man roster, players who impacted the 2021 team and how they might fit into the '22 picture:


(arbitration eligible): The two-time All-Star carried a heavy workload early that may have led to mid-season offensive and injury issues. He finished strong (.919 OPS in September) and is under contractual control through 2022. The question now is whether the Cubs can lock him up long term via an extension.

(free agent): It took 21 years for Chirinos to suit up for the team that originally signed him. In a season filled with setbacks for Contreras' backups, the 37-year-old Chirinos stepped up (.778 OPS in 45 games). He will be a free agent, but could be on Chicago's radar for a 2022 reunion.

(free agent): The 32-year-old veteran signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal to be the Cubs' primary backup in 2021, but injuries limited him to only 28 games. Romine will be a free agent this offseason.


(pre-arbitration): After Javier Báez was traded to the Mets on July 30, and in light of health setbacks for Nico Hoerner, Alcántara got a lot of action at shortstop down the stretch. In 89 games, the versatile infielder hit .205 (.630 OPS), but he did register nine Outs Above Average defensively, per Statcast. Expect Alcántara to compete for a utility role next season.

(under contract): Bote was named Chicago's Opening Day second baseman in 2021, but endured an injury-riddled campaign. In 97 games, he hit .199 with eight homers, 35 RBIs and a .606 OPS. Bote, 28, is set to earn $2.51 million in '22 and is signed through '24 (with two additional team options).

(free agent): The 30-year-old Duffy added bat-to-ball skills (86.1 percent contact rate) to a whiff-happy Cubs lineup in 2021. He moved all over the infield and slashed .287/.357/.381, but was limited to 97 games due to injury. Duffy is a free agent, but Chicago may explore keeping him in the fold.

(pre-arbitration): A series of injuries limited the 24-year-old Hoerner to 44 games in 2021. That was the bad news. The good news was that the versatile infielder hit .302 with a .382 on-base percentage while on the field, and was a plus defender. Hoerner will be a big part of the '22 plans, but his position is not set in stone.

(pre-arbitration): No, Madrigal did not suit up for the Cubs in 2021, but he was a key piece acquired from the White Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade. Looking ahead to '22, the 24-year-old Madrigal is penciled in as the Cubs' primary second baseman. In 54 games in '21, he hit .305 with a 98.6 percent contact rate on in-zone pitches.

(pre-arbitration): A right-hand injury late in the season brought a disappointing end to Rivas' initial taste of the Majors, but the rookie first baseman made a strong first impression. He hit .318/.388/.409 in 18 games and put himself on the 2022 radar. Rivas, 25, also displayed versatility by playing corner outfield.

(pre-arbitration): In the wake of the trades that shipped Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to other clubs, Schwindel stepped up in a major way for the lineup. As the 29-year-old slashed .342/.389/.613 in the second half, Cubs fans embraced "Schwindy City" as the latest cult hero. He had 13 homers, 19 doubles and 40 RBIs in 56 games for Chicago, which will head into 2022 with Schwindel as the likely starting first baseman.

(pre-arbitration): Like Schwindel, Wisdom emerged as an unexpected offensive weapon for the Cubs. The slugging third baseman (and part-time corner outfielder) set a club record for home runs (28) by a rookie. Wisdom's slugging helped balance out an extreme strikeout rate (40.8 percent). Looking ahead to 2022, the 30-year-old Wisdom will be an option for first, third and the corner-outfield spots.


(pre-arbitration): Acquired from the A's as part of the Andrew Chafin deal, the 26-year-old Deichmann received a 14-game taste of The Show down the stretch. He went just 4-for-30 in the batter's box for the Cubs, but hit .274/.388/.435 in 94 games at Triple-A in 2021. Deichmann will be on the MLB radar in '22.

(arbitration eligible): It was a tale of two seasons for the 27-year-old Happ, who earned $4.1 million in 2021. The outfielder was hitting just .175 with a .599 OPS as of Aug. 11, but then he took off. From that point on, Happ hit .323 with a 1.065 OPS in his final 44 games, ending with a career-high 25 homers. He likely overcame the possibility of being non-tendered and now looks like a shoo-in for the left-field job in '22.

(under contract): Heyward, 32, had a fantastic season in the abbreviated 2020 campaign, hitting .265 (.848 OPS) with a 129 OPS+. The veteran right fielder took a step back in '21 with a .214 average (.627 OPS) and a 68 OPS+ in 104 games. His year also had an unfortunate ending on Sept. 11, when he sustained a concussion. Heyward is set to earn $22 million in each of the '22 and '23 seasons.

(pre-arbitration): Chicago cycled through a few backup outfielders in 2021. Among them, Martini hit .270 with a .633 OPS in 25 games. Outfielders such as Trayce Thompson (1.114 OPS in 15 games) and Michael Hermosillo (.905 OPS vs. lefties in a 16-game showing) were also given looks. They offer some potential in-house options for bench/platoon roles in '22.

(pre-arbitration): Ortega had MLB stints in four previous seasons, but the Cubs finally gave him his first extended opportunity in 2021. Ortega responded by hitting .291 (.823 OPS) with 27 extra-base hits, 30 walks, 44 runs and 12 steals in 103 games. He led off, played a solid center field and excelled against right-handed pitching (.900 OPS). Ortega has the makings of a regular in '22, especially on the strong side of a platoon.


(pre-arbitration): A serious ankle injury while at Triple-A Iowa in May threatened to end Adam's season. Instead, the righty worked his way back by September, striking out six over three shutout appearances. He had 19 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings overall. It was a small sample, yes, but the righty impressed the Cubs in 2020 and was a part of their '21 plans before the injury. Expect him to be in the bullpen picture come '22.

(pre-arbitration): Alzolay, 26, posted a 4.58 ERA in 125 2/3 innings in 2021 mostly as a starter. The Cubs limited the righty's innings as much as possible in his first full campaign. Down the stretch, Alzolay had a 1.40 ERA with 21 strikeouts against two walks in 19 1/3 September innings as a reliever. While Alzolay is in the rotation picture for '22, Chicago is keeping an open mind about his role.

(arbitration eligible): The 33-year-old Brothers had a 2.63 ERA up to the Trade Deadline, but struggled as part of an overhauled bullpen down the stretch. Over his last 27 appearances, the lefty had an 8.06 ERA with a .919 opponents' OPS. Brothers looks like a non-tender candidate this offseason.

(free agent): Coming off a solid 2020 showing (2.73 ERA in 12 starts) for the Padres, Davies logged a 5.78 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 75 walks in 148 innings (32 starts) for the Cubs. That included a 9.61 ERA in 10 turns after the Trade Deadline, when Davies stayed put and righty Trevor Williams was dealt to the Mets.

Scott Effross (pre-arbitration): The 27-year-old Effross broke into the Majors down the stretch and offered a different look with his sidearm approach. The righty had 18 strikeouts against one walk in 14 2/3 innings with a 3.68 ERA. Effross will be a contender for the bullpen.

(under contract): It was a trying year for the 31-year-old Hendricks, who ended with a career-high 4.77 ERA in 32 starts. The righty had 131 strikeouts against 44 walks in 181 innings. Hendricks had one strong 16-start stretch between May and August in which he went 11-0 with a 2.79 ERA. From there, the righty had a 7.96 ERA in his last nine outings, while learning to pitch without a postseason berth on the line. Hendricks is set to earn $14 million in 2022 and is signed through '23 with an option for '24.

(pre-arbitration): Heuer, 25, came over to the Cubs as part of the July 30 trade with the White Sox for Kimbrel. In 25 games for the North Siders, the righty turned in a 3.14 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. He was tested as a high-leverage reliever and will be a candidate for important innings and moments out of the Cubs' bullpen come 2022.

(pre-arbitration): Health setbacks, including a left shoulder injury, kept the 22-year-old Marquez out of action this past season. The lefty made his MLB debut in 2020 as the Cubs' No. 1 prospect, but has slipped to No. 2 behind outfielder Brennen Davis now. In '22, the hope is that Marquez can emerge as a "pitching weapon," as Hoyer phrased it. That could mean working his way back as a reliever, as Chicago will need to monitor his innings closely.

(pre-arbitration): The 27-year-old right-hander earned more looks after the trades that sent Chafin, Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera out of town. It was a mixed bag for Megill, who flashed impressive velocity and stuff, but logged an 8.37 ERA in 28 games. The big righty struck out 30 with eight walks in 23 2/3 innings for the Cubs.

(pre-arbitration): The Cubs moved Mills back to the rotation in June and he responded with a 3.35 ERA in his first 11 outings. In his last eight starts, the righty posted a 6.70 ERA as the innings piled up in his first full MLB campaign. Looking ahead to 2022, the 29-year-old Mills will be given a chance to be a part of a rotation that will surely have some offseason additions coming, too.

(free agent): The 31-year-old Morgan did his job against lefties, holding them to a .125 average and a .469 OPS. It was right-handed batters who took a toll on his overall numbers with a 1.369 opponents' OPS. In 34 games, Morgan had a 4.26 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. With a need for some veteran bullpen arms, Morgan might be on the Cubs' radar for next year.

(pre-arbitration): Nance's rise from independent ball to the Cubs' bullpen was a great story within the 2021 season. And the 30-year-old righty was impressive for his first 14 games with a 0.64 ERA. From there, Nance posted a 13.50 ERA in his last 13 MLB appearances, making his place in the '22 picture less clear.

(pre-arbitration): When Rodríguez debuted this year, he became the first player from Yucatán, Mexico, to reach the Majors. The hard-throwing righty was immediately trusted with some high-leverage and closing chances, but the early returns were mixed. While Rodríguez had a 1.31 ERA in the Minors in '21, he logged a 6.11 ERA in 17 2/3 innings for the Cubs. The hope is that he can grow into a late-inning arm for Chicago's relief corps.

(pre-arbitration): Down the stretch in September/October, the 27-year-old Rucker logged a 3.09 ERA in 10 outings as part of the Cubs' revamped bullpen. The rookie had 30 strikeouts against 11 walks in 28 1/3 innings overall this season, with a 6.99 ERA in his first taste of MLB. He will offer an internal depth piece for the 2022 bullpen.

(pre-arbitration): The 30-year-old Sampson became an unexpected source of consistency down the stretch for the Cubs. He made five starts and had five relief outings, posting a 2.80 ERA in 35 1/3 innings overall. Sampson gives Chicago something to think about as an experienced depth option who could offer versatility for the 2022 staff.

(pre-arbitration): The Cubs gave Steele an audition as a starter down the stretch and the lefty logged a 4.95 ERA in nine outings. That said, he finished on a high note with seven shutout frames in his last start on Sept. 30. His 2021 season also included a 2.03 ERA in 11 relief appearances earlier in the year. Expect Steele to compete for a rotation job in '22, but the Cubs will also consider him as a multi-inning relief weapon.

(pre-arbitration): Like Alzolay and Steele, the 26-year-old Thompson was utilized both as a reliever and starter in 2021. It was a way to monitor his innings, but to also see how the righty might fit within the future pitching puzzle. Thompson had a 3.38 ERA in 32 games (six starts) with 55 strikeouts and 31 walks in 53 1/3 innings. His role for '22 will become more clear as the rotation competition unfolds in Spring Training.

(pre-arbitration): The 28-year-old Wick returned in August after nearly a year-long battle with a nagging left side injury. The righty had to rework his mechanics and came back with an altered arsenal. In 22 games down the stretch, Wick had a 4.30 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 23 innings. Looking ahead to 2022, Wick will be one of the internal options for high-leverage work, with the possibility of growing into the closer's role.

(pre-arbitration): Wieck, 30, was piecing together an impressive season before a heart complication ended his season in July. On the mound, the big lefty had a 0.00 ERA with 28 strikeouts and only 10 hits allowed in 17 innings. Wieck had a heart procedure on Aug. 31. His status will become clear come Spring Training, but Wieck has the potential to be a major part of the 'pen.