The biggest news out of Mesa this week was Seiya Suzuki’s diagnosis of a moderate oblique strain. The injury leaves his status for Opening Day in jeopardy. More than likely Seiya will find himself on the IL when the season opens and missing the first couple of weeks in the best case scenario. That, however, leaves a hole in Right Field and also on the roster. What should they do to fill these holes?
The Cubs have several options on the roster that have seen time in Right Field in the past. They could just simply mix and match until Seiya makes his return. One obvious option is Trey Mancini. That, however, just creates another issue. I will touch on how to address that in a minute though. I would rather keep the alignment as is and look towards Iowa for the replacement.
On The Farm
Mike Tauchman seems to be everyone’s favorite on Twitter. The 32-year-old from Palatine is boasting a 1.267 OPS at the time of this writing. My knock against Tauchman is he hasn’t played in MLB since 2021 and his career wasn’t anything spectacular before that. That being said, I have nothing against guys that can play their way onto the roster whether that being Opening Day or earning it later in the year. He also isn’t on the 40-Man Roster.
Matt Mervis was my option to fill in for the holes that Mancini filling Seiya’s spot would create. The slugging 24-year-old has a .795 OPS in Cactus League play. He also isn’t on the 40-man Roster. There was already an expectation that he could find his way to Wrigley Field at some point during the 2023 season. They could bring him up for Opening Day to see how both he and Eric Hosmer do while Seiya is out and then evaluate how to proceed when he returns.
Nelson Velázquez is also boasting a high OPS in Arizona. Currently sitting at .856, he could be prime to make a return trip to Wrigley Field in 2023.
Last but not least is Brennen Davis. The 23-year-old top prospect lost out on the 2022 season due to injury. Davis could probably use more time at AAA but he did say that he wanted to earn an Opening Day roster spot. The injury to Seiya could be the opening he was looking for. He currently has a .900 OPS in Spring Training.
What Should They Do?
Again, I think the Cubs should proceed with their defensive alignment as planned. They should plug one of their minor league outfielders in while Seiya is on the IL. My preference would be to bring Davis up and finally see what he can do at the Major League level. He might stumble, especially if Seiya is only out for a short amount of time. If that happens, Davis can return to Iowa knowing what he needs to work on before he returns to Wrigley. Velázquez would be my second choice and can understand why Cubs’ brass would choose him over Davis at this point. Tauchman and Mervis both require a 40-man Roster spot to be opened up to be called upon to fill in for Seiya. I would let them open up the season in Iowa if it remains to look like Seiya will only be out a short period of time. THe thing to keep in mind with their production so far is that it is a small sample size. They could always fall off before camp wraps up. We still have awhile before anything has to be decided. I hope all of these players continue to produce and leave the roster spot a very difficult decision for the front office to make. In the meantime, lets all hope Seiya heals quickly and finds his way back to lineup sooner rather than later once the season starts.
Featured Image: Rick Scuteri- USA TODAY Sports
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