The official word on Willson Contreras’s hamstring is not a worst case scenario, as ESPN reported yesterday, but it’s also not as rosy as a mere three to four-week injury.
Instead, the injury is being termed a “moderate” right hamstring strain, which is more along the lines of a four to six-week recovery period. The plan is for two weeks of no activity, at which point he’s hopefully pain free, and the actual rehab can begin.
If Contreras is an incredibly fast healer, it’s plausible he could be back with the big league team by mid-September, but now we’re confronted with a reality where it’s possible we don’t see him until the final week of the regular season, if at all.
Contreras will head to the disabled list, and Victor Caratini will come back up from AAA to take over the back-up duties, behind newly (and thankfully) acquired catcher Alex Avila.
Caratini, you may recall, came up as Contreras’ backup earlier this season, when the team DFA’d then back-up Miguel Montero. During his brief cup of coffee, Caratini slashed .192/.250/.385 with a home run and two RBI in 11 games – six starts (five at C, one at 1B).
At Triple-A Iowa, however, Caratini is absolutely dominating Minor League pitchers to the tune of a .344/.387/.557 (138 wRC+) slash line over 302 plate appearances. In terms of back-up catcher depth, Caratini is pretty darn good (and still has some upside!).
Contreras is leaving behind a .274/.342/.519 slash line, including 21 home runs and a blisteringly hot second half that has made many wonder if he’d have gotten down-ballot MVP votes this year. Alas, he’ll rest of on the DL and hopefully return in time to get some quality at-bats before the (fingers crossed) postseason.
And, as I mentioned, it’ll be Alex Avila taking over the majority of Contreras’ duties for now, and he’s slashing .268/.387/.474 this year, with a solid 16.1% walk rate and 12 home runs. Again, in terms of a replacement starter, you arguably cannot have done better than Avila.
This is all far from ideal, Cubs fans, but at least it’s not an even worse scenario, where Contreras is out for the year, and the team hadn’t acquired a quality back-up at the deadline.
UPDATE: It’s officially official:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 11, 2017
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.