Infielder Jonathan Villar is expected to rejoin the Cubs on Tuesday, and outfielder Seiya Suzuki could follow shortly.
But making room for those two on the active roster presents a few intriguing scenarios.
Villar’s switch-hitting ability and infield versatility could pinch a current player as well as dent the Cubs’ wallet.
Four-time Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons was relegated to playing second base until Nick Madrigal returned last week, which reduced Simmons’ role to backing up Nico Hoerner at short.
Simmons, 32, signed a one-year, $4 million contract, but he didn’t make his Cubs debut until May 15 because of a sore right shoulder.
Infielder David Bote also is eligible to return Tuesday, but his status is murky. Bote, 29, is batting .178 in 45 at-bats while on a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa. Bote can play second and third base, and he is guaranteed about $11 million through 2024.
Third baseman Patrick Wisdom’s ability to play first base could create playing time for Villar at third as well as put Alfonso Rivas’ status in question. Rivas has minor-league options and only nine hits in his last 72 at-bats, including a 1-for-14 performance on the recent homestand.
Suzuki’s status won’t be clarified until he performs a series of baseball drills before the game against the Orioles. Christopher Morel’s increased playing time in center field has relegated Rafael Ortega to backup and designated-hitter duty. Jason Heyward had an RBI single Sunday but is batting .211 with $36 million in salary owed to him through 2023.
Villar is returning after having mouth surgery following an accident during a workout. Suzuki has done limited work since spraining his left ring finger May 26 on a slide at second base.
High-A South Bend outfielder Owen Caissie and Low-A Myrtle Beach right-hander Luis Devers were named the organization’s player and pitcher of the month for May.
Caissie, 19, who was acquired from the Padres in December 2020 as part of the Yu Darvish trade, batted .313 with six doubles, four home runs, 26 RBI and a .910 OPS in 23 games.
Devers, 22, was 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 24„ innings. Devers held opponents to a .176 batting average in five starts and had a WHIP of 0.90. He finished the month with a 15-inning scoreless streak.
Also, South Bend left-hander DJ Herz was named Midwest League pitcher of the week for the period ending Sunday. Herz struck out 12 while allowing one hit in five innings in a win at Dayton on June 1.
Herz has struck out 37 in 53 innings with a 1.45 ERA in 10 starts.
Menez to Iowa after clearing waivers
Left-handed reliever Conner Menez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. Menez made one appearance, pitching a scoreless inning May 13 against the Diamondbacks.