September roster decisions loom for Cubs

CHICAGO -- Regardless of whether a deal is made before the waiver trade deadline on Aug. 31, the Chicago Cubs will be getting an influx of reinforcements when major league rosters expand on Sept. 1.

President Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the rest of the front-office staff are already discussing which players -- and how many -- will be promoted from the minor leagues to enhance the team’s depth and flexibility for the final month of the regular season.

The roster limit jumps from 25 to 40 in September, but the Cubs are trying to decide what is the precise number necessary to cover all the bases without having too many players around.

“It’s hard,” Hoyer said earlier this week. “You have a lot of factors in play. You want to make sure that your innings are covered in case anything happens, a rain delay or a blowout. You want to make sure you can match up really well off the bench. You want to make sure you have pinch runners.

“But you also have to make sure you don’t ruin your clubhouse in September.”

That’s especially true with the Cubs because the home clubhouse in Wrigley Field –-- at least until the new two-level clubhouse opens next season -- is much smaller than others around major league baseball.

“You guys are down there every day; you see how much space we have,” Hoyer said to reporters. “The last thing you want is too many guys down there. It sort of disrupts the vibe of what’s been going well.

“You want to call up enough guys to cover all those factors I mentioned before without calling up too many guys and change the dynamic of the clubhouse.”

Manager Joe Maddon will let the front office decide which players will be joining the team, but makes it clear that the Cubs can’t afford to be caught short in the race for a playoff spot.

“When you get into the position we’re getting into now, a couple of things have to be factored in,” Maddon said. “Speed has to be factored in. That’s one thing. Bullpen has to be factored in and catching has to be factored in. You have to make sure you’re covered in all of those areas.

“The other point that I’m very much about is, if it’s bad game, to get your regular guys off their feet and get somebody else in there.”

Which pitchers are promoted will be determined by who is healthy and throwing well. Two position players that almost certainly will join the team are infielders Tommy La Stella and Javier Baez -- if the Cubs don’t acquire a veteran to get into the mix at second base.

“Tommy is getting well and [Javier] Baez is getting well,” Maddon said. “I’ve been a part of it where young players have impacted this time of year in a positive way.”

September games often have a different feel because teams can make more moves. For instance, instead of waiting until the seventh or eighth innings to begin matching up with lefties and righties out of the bullpen, it can happen as early as the fifth.

“It’s really annoying when you’re in it and you’re playing someone that’s not and they can do that to you,” Maddon said.

Because of that there’s been talk of limiting the amount of players that can be active each game. “I’m OK with that if that were to happen, some kind of limitation, because it gets kind of crazy,” Maddon said.