The Chicago Cubs are officially bringing up utility prospect Christopher Morel and lefty relief prospect Brandon Hughes, per reports, with Jason Heyward and Conner Menez going out.
Specifically, Menez, a fellow lefty reliever, is being optioned back to Iowa (so he stays on the 40-man roster for now). And Heyward goes on the Injured List with no designation and while opening up a 40-man spot for Morel, which can only happen if he is going on the COVID IL. That makes three Cubs players currently on the COVID IL, together with Marcus Stroman and David Robertson. So that really sucks.
Hughes, a converted outfielder who exploded as a pitcher, has been the most successful reliever in the Cubs’ system over the last 11 months, so it’s really excited to see him get some big league time. He’s probably going to be around until Sean Newcomb (ankle) is ready to return, or perhaps when Stroman/Robertson are activated, but it’s also possible that Hughes demonstrates that he’s just too good to be bounced. Don’t forget: in a little over a week, teams will be capped at a maximum of 13 pitchers on the staff, so there’s going to be a squeeze.
Morel, who got a deeper dive this morning, figures to be filling in at least until Clint Frazier is ready to return next week. I’m a tad annoyed that he isn’t starting tonight, but I understand that he’s being called up in large part because he’s already on the 40-man and the Cubs needed a warm body. This isn’t necessarily a developmental call-up where you’d freak that he comes up and sits on the bench. Hopefully, even when not playing, he’s getting some important experience.