The trade that involved veteran catcher Alex Avila coming over to Chicago is making Theo Epstein look like a bigger genius than what we already knew he was. Avila will step into the starting role following an injury to hot hitting Willson Contreras on Wednesday.
After grounding out in the 8th inning of the 3-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, Contreras pulled up a little gimpy, holding his right hamstring. The result was just announced to be a moderate hamstring strain and Contreras is expected to miss four to six weeks.
That time frame will hopefully bring Willy C back in time for the tail end of the season and ideally he will not need to be rushed back for a potential playoff push. As long as the Cubs have the division in hand, I don’t expect to see him back until the Postseason begins.
The injury comes at a tough time for the Cubs and Willson as he was the hottest hitter on the team as of late and also one of the best hitters in the league recently, as proven by his National League Player of the Week honors. Since the All-Star break, Contreras had produced a slash line of .311/.380/.700/1.080 and a 173 wRC+. It is always tough to suffer an injury that keeps you out of the lineup, but especially in the middle of such a successful stretch of games.
The Cubs will now need to replace the production of Contreras, who had been hitting in the cleanup spot in the order for some time now. While Avila is having an extremely successful season, don’t expect him to make up for the loss of Willson by himself. Ben Zobrist will need to bust out of his season-long slump to help fill some of the void left by the superstar in the making catcher.
To replace Contreras on the 25-man roster, the organization called up Victor Caratini, who has recently with the Cubs but sent down when Avila was acquired. Vic has been killing the ball all season for Iowa, slashing .344/.387/.557/.944, and has hit .370 with a couple bombs since being sent back down on August 3rd.
Hopefully by the time Willson Contreras is back, the Cubs will have a division title under their belt and be preparing for a deep Postseason run.