Chicago Cubs have no reason to keep Edwin Rios in the Majors
As expected, the chorus of Chicago Cubs fans calling for Matt Mervis keeps getting louder and louder as the season marches on. It's clear he's ready for the big leagues and the team isn't running their best 26 guys unless they have him in tow. Considering he's a first baseman, it makes sense then that fans would turn their ire to veteran Eric Hosmer as the guy to cut bait with in order to bring Mervis up.
However, whether it's to preserve the culture or keep around major league depth, the Cubs are frustratingly sticking with Hosmer through his slump. Whatever you feel about that decision, there's actually an easier solution that would allow Mervis to come up and Hosmer to stay - just send Edwin Rios to Iowa.
Unlike Hosmer, Rios has a minor league option, allowing the Cubs to freely send him down without jettisoning him from the organization. Also unlike Hosmer, they've gotten FAR less use out of him so far. Rios has only appeared in 11 games with only 23 plate appearances across that time. In those few games, he's not exactly the first choice to take critical at-bats either. Tuesday night's game proved that when he was taken out for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded and one out in the 6th.
He's not setting the world on fire, with only an 82 wRC+ and a strikeout rate of 34.8%, but it's the Cubs' unwillingness to give him meaningful playing time that's the real issue. He has talent, but with Patrick Wisdom swinging a hot bat and Nick Madrigal showing flashes, he's been given little room to work with at the hot corner, drawing only two(!) innings there. He's basically been relegated to DH against righties, but even there the team has often opted for Trey Mancini, Nelson Velazquez, or others.
Matt Mervis would give the Cubs more reliable lefty power than Rios
Would it not then make infinitely more sense to send Rios, who's getting almost no time in the field and only a small share of DH starts, to get more regular at-bats in Iowa and bring up Mervis who is clearly above Triple-A caliber and is more likely to make a long-term impact? After clobbering the ball last year, Mervis picked up right where he left off, posting a 146 wRC+ with 6 homers so far, and an equal 15.7% strikeout and walk rate. He has no boxes left to tick. On top of all that, he also fits the lefty power bat hole that Rios was signed to help address only with a higher ceiling based on his minor league performance.
Mervis has the potential to be a major boon for the Cubs at first base and especially at DH where the team currently has a .645 OPS. It's not like Rios would be gone forever either. He'd still be around tinkering in Iowa while, at the very least, providing depth in case of injury.
Adding to the frustration of all this is that the Cubs are working through a rough stretch right now, dropping seven of their last ten. Several of those losses are basically coinflips where a big hit could've changed the outcome. Maybe they don't flip all those games, but it would feel a lot better having Mervis on the team since it puts them one step closer to their best possible roster.
Keeping Hosmer around is a tough sell, but at least he's doing SOMETHING and the players value his veteran leadership. If the Cubs have no use for, or confidence in, Rios right now, then they have somehow even less reason to not option him for a bat that could be part of the next great Cubs team.