Geovany Soto exited Tuesday's game after experiencing shoulder pain following a throw to second base, but the Cubs received good news Thursday when an MRI exam revealed no structural damage. Soto is now hoping to avoid the disabled list and rejoin the lineup in 2-3 days.
Catchers who can hit like Soto are extremely valuable and that value is often magnified by the fact that teams rarely have a strong backup in place if a major injury strikes. Even with some standout performances by good-hitting backstops like Soto, the average MLB catcher batted just .257 with a .325 on-base percentage and .390 slugging percentage last season.
The position's collective .715 OPS was 102 points lower than first base and at least 30 points lower than every position except shortstop (.718). Soto hit .285/.364/.504 with 23 homers, 35 doubles, and 86 RBIs in 563 plate appearances to take home Rookie of the Year honors last season, adding around five wins compared to a "replacement-level player" behind the plate.
Meanwhile his backup, 30-year-old Koyie Hill, is very much a replacement-level player and carries an ugly .189/.254/.277 career line in 266 trips to the plate. Hill isn't really a .189 hitter--he batted .275/.350/.492 in 113 games at Triple-A last year--but if he were asked to replace Soto for a significant length of time the Cubs would lose somewhere around one win per month. In other words, it looks like they've dodged a bullet.