Cubs Reportedly Promoting Luis Vázquez to Chicago, Which Probably Means Nico Hoerner to IL

According to a report from ESPN’s Jorge Castillo, the Cubs are promoting middle infielder Luis Vázquez from Triple-A Iowa to Chicago. Castillo is Vázquez’s cousin and got the news from the player’s mother, so we can probably say it’s accurate. While it’ll be cool to see an MLB debut, this likely means Nico Hoerner is heading to the IL after sitting out the last five games.

After five seasons of flying under the radar in the Cubs organization — he batted .234 or lower in four of them –Vázquez exploded on the scene with a .271 average and 24 homers between Double-A and Triple-A. That was enough to earn him a spot on the 40-man roster, so the Cubs won’t need to make a move other than placing Hoerner, presumably, on the IL.

The power is down a little this season, though Vázquez is still batting .262 with three homers and 10 doubles. Even losing 200 points off his .757 OPS would see him outperforming either player he’s going to replace in the lineup for the time being.

Dansby Swanson is expected to be activated ahead of the Cubs’ next game on Tuesday, so Vázquez will be playing second base. Though he’s primarily a shortstop, he has logged a little time at both second and third in the minors. After nearly a week of seeing Nick Madrigal and Miles Mastrobuoni manning the middle infield, this will be a nice change of pace.

The only frustrating thing about this is that it didn’t happen sooner. There was absolutely no reason to have played shorthanded for nearly a week by choice. Craig Counsell has spoken many times about individual games being less important than the season when it comes to pitchers, but the same should be true of position players. With Vázquez in Iowa and on the 40-man already, taking this wait-and-see approach with Hoerner’s status looks like a mistake in hindsight.

As unlikely as it is that Vázquez forces the Cubs to keep him up, I’m hoping he does just that and creates a situation that sees the club make a decision about the strength of the bench. They’ll have to do that anyway with Swanson coming off the IL, so maybe it’s a Hoerner IL and then optioning one of the other two guys. Mastrobuoni is most likely to be optioned because he’s already been sent down and has really struggled since coming back.

Ed. note: A lot of folks have pointed out that the team has said Hoerner would return by Tuesday, but it would be odd to promote Vázquez just to have him sit. Unless, that is, the idea is to Have him play second while they rest Hoerner’s leg by using him as the DH. That would require two moves, likely optioning or DFA-ing both Madrigal and Mastrobuoni.

For additional context, Vázquez has been slumping badly at the plate in May and has just a .143 average with a .505 OPS with 15 strikeouts in 56 at-bats. That’s not a guy you call up unless you have to, nor does it seem likely the Cubs view a cup of coffee in a backup role as the way to get him going again. I could certainly be wrong on this, but we should know one way or the other by tomorrow afternoon.

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