Cubs Roster Moves: Swanson, Vazquez, Mastrobuoni, Crow-Armstrong

According to the Cubs’ transactions page, we now know the corresponding move for infield prospect Luis Vazquez’s impending call-up: it’s a set of multiple moves, but he’s kinda being swapped out for outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong.

Weird. I know.

The full set of moves have Dansby Swanson being activated (shortstop in), Miles Mastrobuoni being sent down (infielder out), Vazquez being called up (infielder in), and PCA being sent down (outfielder out). So, it’s not exactly a one-to-one swap here, but if you conceptualize Swanson as taking the spot of another infielder – for example, the guy who’d been starting for him at shortstop after Nico Hoerner’s injury – then it really is like Vazquez is coming up for PCA.

Of all the possible explanations for the Luis Vazquez move – and I offered several educated guesses – effectively swapping him out for Pete Crow-Armstrong was not especially close to my radar. There is the obvious positional differences there, but there’s also the fact that if Mastrobuoni is also going down, the depth outfield options shrink by one. Patrick Wisdom can play in the corners in an emergency, but by and large, it’s just Ian Happ, Cody Bellinger, Seiya Suzuki, and Mike Tauchman. And on days when Bellinger plays first base, there would be no outfielders on the bench. It’s not necessarily a problem, it’s just notable.

As for Pete Crow-Armstrong, my position has been that, if he’s going to be up, he needs to be making regular starts. Now, I would have really tried to answer that by making more starts available. But obviously the other approach is to send him back to Triple-A Iowa to start every day. I’m not outraged by the decision, because I know PCA is not yet a finished offensive product and there might still be long-term value in him getting in additional time at Triple-A. Like I said, this just isn’t quite what I had on my radar.

With Swanson returning at the same time as Vazquez is coming, and with Mastrobuoni going down, we can probably assume Nico Hoerner is going to be able to play tomorrow. If not, it could be Nick Madrigal again, though I’m sure Vazquez can handle any infield spot well enough.

I suppose I’m just not quite sure what the role will be for Vazquez, other than pure bench depth. That might be his ceiling anyway, but why the urgency to switch with Mastrobuoni? Any chance Vazquez plays at third base some, allowing Christopher Morel to DH more often? Is that part of the thinking?

We’ll see soon. Odd set of moves, but none of it is necessarily problematic. And neither is any of it necessarily permanent. I expect Pete Crow-Armstrong to be back at some point. Miles Mastrobuoni will probably be back at some point. And Luis Vazquez may not stay up the rest of the way. Let’s just call it a very aggressive usage of the guys on the 40-man roster.

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