Cubs Roster Moves: Suzuki Returns, Mastrobuoni Optioned, Estrada Waits
Today the Chicago Cubs officially activated outfielder Seiya Suzuki from the 10-day Injured List (oblique), and he’ll make his season debut batting cleanup. May he stay healthy from here and rake.
Utility man Miles Mastrobuoni gets optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Suzuki, which is only a mild surprise. I thought there would be a chance Edwin Rios would be the guy sent out for Seiya Suzuki, but the Cubs do like having that lefty power available on the bench.
Mastrobuoni, 27, has made great contact so far – 90mph average exit velocity, 50% hard hit rate – but he hasn’t walked yet and has struck out 30% of the time. He’s got the lefty bat and versatility, but the production wasn’t there in a small sample. Part of his value to the Cubs is the ability to option him up and down, so this is that.
The move the Cubs haven’t announced is the arrival of reliever Jeremiah Estrada, whom we know traveled to LA to join the team. Either that roster move is coming later this evening, or Estrada is being held in case he’s needed tomorrow (i.e., the bullpen gets used up tonight, and/or Cody Bellinger goes on the paternity list tomorrow and the Cubs want to add Estrada as the corresponding move).
Estrada, 24, was a breakout relief prospect for the Cubs in 2022, rocketing himself up from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A to MLB. The Cubs are focused on his development, though I’m not sure how much more he can get at Triple-A. He didn’t allow a run there this year through his first five innings, hasn’t walked anyone, and has struck out 41.2% of the batters he’s faced.
Because Estrada has options, even if he’s added tonight or tomorrow, it’s possible his stay will be brief, with Brandon Hughes due back in the coming days. Then again, the Cubs might decide their best eight relievers includes Estrada, and that’s when they would have to make a decision on possibly losing a guy like Julian Merryweather (who has struggled, and who has no minor league options remaining). I hope Estrada gets added soon. He’s fun to watch.
Nelson Velazquez sticks around for now as the team’s fourth outfielder – it’s an important role, and I’m glad he’s around. I hope he gets some starts.
As for Seiya Suzuki, he requires very little discussion here. The 28-year-old right fielder hit .262/.336/.433/116 wRC+ in his debut MLB season, and the expectation is that he can top that this year after settling in. Here’s hoping the disruption to his would-be Spring Training doesn’t muck with that too much. The Cubs need him to break out.