3 Surprise Cubs Who Will Make the 40-Man Roster

Which surprise Chicago Cubs players could end up making the 40-man roster
Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chicago Cubs have done a good job of finding and developing some gems over the last handful of years, be it the relief pitcher who was discarded by another team or non-roster invite to Spring Training that ended up making an impact during the season with his bat. But with one of the better farm systems in all of baseball right now, cracking the Cubs' 40-man roster might be easier said than done.

Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins have plenty of difficult decisions to make as it is, especially with the excitement over the Cubs this coming season seemingly reaching a ceiling with Cody Bellinger's situation looming over everyone's heads. But having a player or two make it impossible for the Cubs to cut them after Spring Training is always a welcomed sight.

Which surprise Cubs could end up making the 40-man roster this Spring?

1. Matt Shaw, IF

Matt Shaw was the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2023 MLB Draft and has already had a rapid progression through their minor league system. And this was likely part of what the Cubs had envisioned for him when they selected him with the 13th overall pick out of Maryland.

Similar to perhaps the vision with someone like Nico Hoerner, who was picked 24th overall in the 2018 Draft before making his Chicago Cubs debut in 2019, it's possible the organization views Shaw as more than just a long-term option at third base. He's been working all offseason on defensive versatility, even consulting someone like Hoerner, whose versatility made him a non-negotiable for the Cubs very early on in his pro career.

As a hitter, the floor seems high for Shaw. He slashed .357/.400/.618 with 8 home runs in just 38 games from Rookie to High-A to Double-A. Even if you have to deal with some lumps along the way, the uncertainty for the Cubs right now at the corner infield spots (no matter the team's projections of trade acquisition Michael Busch) could lead to some early playing time at Wrigley for someone like Shaw.

As of right now, Shaw is a non-roster invite to Spring Training but a strong showing in Arizona could ultimately lead to a 40-man roster position, and it just feels like that's the way things are trending. So perhaps Shaw isn't exactly a surprise to make the 40-man roster but do a little more than that and impress enough to warrant an early look with the big league club.