The Cubs have activated infielder David Bote off the 60-day injured list and designated infielder Jonathan Villar for assignment. Bote, 29, is back with the Cubs for the first time this season after opening the year on the 60-day injured list while recovering from left shoulder surgery. During a rehab assignment from May 19-June 23 at Triple-A Iowa, he batted .284 with six doubles, one triple, 12 RBI, and three stolen bases in 18 games.
Villar, 31, batted .222 with six doubles, two triples, two homers, and 15 RBI in 46 games for Chicago this season. That was good for a 66 wRC+, which means he was 34% worse than the average run producer. Villar’s -0.6 fWAR was worst on the team and ranks 401st of 418 MLB players who have accumulated at least 50 plate appearances this year.
The negative value was due mainly to Villar playing the kind of lead-footed defense that sabotaged more than a few pitching performances. By contrast, Andrelton Simmons has been one of the worst offensive producers in the game yet still maintains a tenuous grasp on a roster spot because he can pick it in the middle infield spots. Simmons has a wRC+ of 11 on the season, worse than all but six of the 418 players previously mentioned.
Bote is a huge step up from Villar, which is really saying something for a guy with a career 88 wRC+ and -0.5 fWAR over the past two seasons. Injuries derailed him last year and sapped the power that had been his carrying trait for three seasons. It’s funny to think back to when a decent number of fans believed he should have been given the starting third base spot over Kris Bryant, but Bote can be a decent role-player because of the pop and solid glove.