So, Cubs fans, you have some newly acquired talent and want to know what you’ve traded away some of your top prospects for. Just who are these Wilson and Avila guys? Was it worth it? Short answer: yes, you lucky jerks. Please treat them well.
Alex Avila, your new backup catcher, is everything you’ve been missing since David Ross left. He’s a real clubhouse guy, who works tremendously well with pitchers, especially helping guide young talent. He’s great at calling a game, though his skills as a defensive catcher have waned a bit in recent years. Were you to look at any of his previous seasons, this acquisition might seem unwise, but he’s having a really stellar 2017 season, and since he’s only a rental you’re getting him while he’s hot. Avila is having his best season since 2011 – a year he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger – and is hitting .274/.394/.475 with 11 home runs on the season. As a backup catcher. He’s a solid lefty, who knows how to take a walk, and that kind of plate discipline serves him well. He’s also no stranger to Chicago, having spent the 2016 season with the White Sox. In previous years Avila has been something of an injury magnet, but since he’s moved out of a day-to-day role those concerns have all but vanished. All in all he is an offensively strong catcher who won’t throw out a ton of guys on the basepaths but will provide firm guidance for the pitching staff and be a much-needed positive influence in the clubhouse. And he can also grow a majestic beard basically overnight.
The big get in this trade, of course, is Justin Wilson. Wilson, who will likely be the seventh/eighth inning guy for the Cubs, has been the Tigers closer since Francisco Rodriguez proved himself to not be equal to the task. Wilson has gone on to have one of his best major league seasons ever (he posted lower numbers in 2012 and 2013 but played in very few games). Currently he’s got a 2.68 ERA, a 3.22 FIP, and an absolutely gorgeous 0.942 WHIP over 42 games. If you’re the kind of person who puts stock in saves (which you shouldn’t) he has 13 of them since moving into the closer role only a couple months ago. Wilson isn’t a flashy player, he doesn’t exude a ton of personality, but he’s a gifted left-handed reliever who is much more valuable in the pen than just a LOOGY role. He can go multiple innings if needed, and close a game, which makes him a valuable multi-use relief arm, something the Cubs sorely need.
All in all, very good gets for the Cubs, two pieces that will help keep them on top of the division and get them back to the postseason again.
Here’s what we can expect from the newest Cubs pitcher and catcher.