One Garcia (Leury Garcia) has been tendered a contract already and I expect the other (Avisail Garcia) to receive one as well. The White Sox are in the midst of an outfield crunch given Daniel Palka‘s success and Eloy Jimenez‘s anticipated arrival in April, but leaving Avi outside in the cold given the interest from other teams on the trade market would be a mistake.
Leary Garcia, chisox agree st $1.55M, avoiding arbitration
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2018
Add to the outfield equation the possibility (albeit small) that the White Sox could land Bryce Harper off the free-agency market and there is a serious conundrum brewing in Chicago. The White Sox have made it clear they are open for business in every way and not afraid to spend money this offseason. The fact that Garcia has failed to follow through on lofty expectations certainly drops him down to the bottom of the depth chart in right field, but after posting a .330 batting average in 2017, the Sox can’t ignore his (I know, I know) value.
Trade rumors involving Garcia reignited early this month and it seemed like the White Sox wanted to cash in on interest before the Nov. 30 non-tender deadline. This was a smart move given his injury-plagued 2018 season, and coming off a breakout 2017 campaign. Garcia has been the subject of trade discussions for the better part of a year, and the possibility of a move appeared serious last winter when Garcia’s value peaked after a career year. A deal was and still is elusive given Garcia’s perplexing career.
According to a source, the White Sox are actively trying to trade Avisail Garcia. There’s a sense within the industry that Chicago will non-tender Garcia if they’re unable to deal him.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 13, 2018
Here’s the deal: Garcia is untradeable because he has one year left before free agency, he hasn’t been consistent, and the question about his physical health lingers. He has a fresh, surgically repaired knee and a host of other nicks and scrapes. Teams that feel he still has talent left in him might make a deal, and truth be told, this is the kind of low-level swap that occasionally yields a contributing piece among of field of elite talent. Non-tendering Avi is a hard pass on an asset that could be worth something to someone soon.
Of course, the argument could be made that with Jimenez slated for an early-2019 promotion and Palka’s cuddling up to the fanbase that Avi will only impede their development, and that’s a legitimate concern. However, Nicky Delmonico‘s safety on the roster isn’t all that certain and Adam Engel — although a wildly successful defensive centerfielder — is a black hole in the lineup. Jimenez will undoubtedly take the majority of the reps in right field once he’s called up, and Palka deserves a fair shake until that time. In the meantime, Avi is an offensive upgrade in left or center with Engel as a late inning defensive replacement. And if you don’t like that scenario, Avi could hold down left while Engel and (Leury) Garcia platoon in center.
The short answer is that jettisoning Avi before the 2019 season is a foolish move. If you have to non-tender someone, however unpopular it may be, Matt Davidson deserves serious consideration before Garcia. Davidson, despite his dual threat on the mound, was atrocious last season and for a guy billed with serious power a .419 slugging percentage ain’t gonna cut it. Yet, Garcia’s OPS was nearly identical to Davidson’s last season, albeit with nearly 40 games less Davidson. But at least Garcia can boast a .885 OPS in 2017, a year when many believed he could have hit for more power.
My feeling is that the Sox will tender both Davidson and Garcia. Both players offer something to the team at a fair price. Neither player is slated to get a serious payday. MLB Traderumors estimates Avi will receive $8 million in 2019, a $750,000 increase from last season, and I think that’s fair. Potential trade partners might balk at acquiring him for that sum, but if he hits the ground running with renewed vigor and a healthy body, Garcia could be a steal at the trade deadline.
Teams must tender eligible players by 8 p.m. tonight and players can either reject the offer and head to arbitration or accept the terms and enjoy the rest of their offseason.