Every significant injury sets off a series of dominoes that fall in different directions, and with Kyle Schwarber now out for the year, the careers of other baseball players have been altered.
Here are the folks most directly affected by the terrible knee injury to Schwarber, who finished 10th among all major leaguers last season in OPS against right-handed pitchers (.953):
1. Jorge Soler
Because of his struggles in 2015, when he hit .262 with 121 strikeouts in 404 plate appearances with subpar play in the outfield, his perceived value on the trade market plummeted in the eyes of some rival evaluators. If the Cubs had moved him during the offseason, they probably would've had to do so for less than they believed he was worth. But that also meant that heading into spring training, he was stuck in a weird place in his career; the 24-year-old Soler had nothing more to prove in Triple-A, where he had dominated, and at the same time had no regular big league role for the Cubs.
With Schwarber out, however, Soler has an opportunity to become a regular again, and the better he plays, the more he'll play. The Cubs, of course, would love for him to take advantage of this chance, to simultaneously help the major league team and restore his trade stock, for whatever choices the team needs to make.
The Cubs have alternatives, from Javier Baez to Matt Szczur to Tommy La Stella to a good crop of minor league outfielders, such as Albert Almora. Soler will get the first real shot at making this job his own, but the clock is ticking.
Soler needs to step up, writes Jesse Rogers.
2. Willson Contreras
The Cubs fully intended to use Schwarber at the catcher position this season, along with Miguel Montero and David Ross, but now a layer of that depth is gone, and Contreras, the Cubs' best catching prospect, moves one step closer to the big leagues. The right-handed hitter has opened the season with Triple-A Iowa after hitting .333 with a .413 on-base percentage in Double-A last year, then having a good showing in the Arizona Fall League.
3. Javier Baez
Baez is working his way back from a thumb bruise he suffered March 20, and the other day he was hit by a pitch. Whenever he gets back, Baez will be in the mix because of his ability to play multiple positions, but he'll probably rejoin the big league team working under the same conditions as Soler: The more Baez hits and shows progress at the plate, the more likely it is that he'll get at-bats left behind by Schwarber. Baez has tons of bat speed, power and foot speed, but he swings and misses a whole lot too. In his first 80 games in the big leagues, Baez has 309 plate appearances, 12 doubles and 10 homers — and 119 strikeouts.