Free agent options that would be an offensive upgrade over Avisail Garcia

Free agent options that would be an offensive upgrade over Avisail Garcia

The non-tender deadline is quickly approaching and might add some more interesting names to free agency. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand listed candidates to be cut loose by their respective clubs, and sure enough, Avisail Garcia was listed for the Chicago White Sox. In the piece, Feinsand wrote that the White Sox are trying to find a trade partner for Garcia, but that’s hard to imagine that happening when teams can pick up similar outfielders without giving up prospects.

Why the White Sox would move on from Garica and be boiled down to a lack of trust in performance. 2017 was his only good season earning All-Star accolades, but it’s been a mixture of not living up to the hype or spending a lot of time on the disabled list. It’s a challenging situation to figure out if the White Sox, or any team for that matter, can count on Garcia to play more than 100 games in 2019. If he can, what kind of value is he bringing to the table?

One of my favorite metrics when evaluating players is Runs Created. It’s an oldie, but I think it’s a useful metric. If you are unfamiliar with Runs Created, it’s a stat that Bill James created to help gauge how many runs a player produced. There are more advanced ways of calculating a players contribution to a team’s run totals, but RC is simple enough for this exercise to see what Garcia leaves behind if the White Sox move on.

As a reminder, Garcia played in 93 games in 2018 hitting .236/.281/.438 with a single season personal best 19 home runs. For the season, Garcia’s Runs Created is 43 runs, and the team total in right field was 74 runs. A pretty significant drop off from 2017 when Garcia’s Runs Created was at 97 runs.

Let’s say if Hahn decides to move on from Garcia and doesn’t tender him a contract by the deadline. Which free agents could provide better offensive production in right field?

The first and obvious choice would be Bryce Harper. The White Sox are already flirting with the idea but will have to outspend Philadelphia to net Harper’s services. Using Harper’s 2018 season which he hit 34 home runs with a slash line of .249/.393/.496, the 26-year old Runs Created was 107 runs. That’s a net positive of 33 runs more than what the White Sox had in right field. As I wrote previously, the White Sox need to add more runs if they hope to go from rebuilder to contender. Harper would be a good start as Steamer projections from Fangraphs is projecting a similar season in 2019 with Harper hitting .267/.399/.527 that includes 34 HR and 95 RBI. That comes out to a 107 Runs Created projection – same as 2018.

That dream might be to pie in the sky for some that are trying to be grounded in realistic choices for a franchise who has never signed a free agent to more than $68 million. Steamer projects that Garcia in 2019 will have a slash line of .262/.318/.440 with 22 home runs. That comes out to a Runs Created total of 73.

Below is a list of outfielders and their 2019 Steamer Runs Created projections:

Player Steamer Proj. Runs Created – 2019
Bryce Harper 107 Runs Created
Michael Brantley 90 Runs Created
AJ Pollock 81 Runs Created
Andrew McCutchen 81 Runs Created
Adam Jones 77 Runs Created

If the White Sox don’t want to go the free agency route and instead internally fill the void letting Garcia go there is number one prospect Eloy Jimenez. Steamer is projecting an impressive rookie season for the now 22-year old who celebrated his birthday yesterday. For the 2019 season Steamer projects a .293/.342/.502 slash line with 22 home runs for Jimenez who would have a Runs Created total of 75 runs. Two more than Garica’s projected amount at roughly 1/16th the cost.

A better route would let Garcia enter free agency a year early and sign one of the five outfielders in the table above. Michael Brantley, AJ Pollock, Andrew McCutchen, and Adam Jones don’t move the enthusiasm needle-like Bryce Harper would, but not many players do. All of them are projected to have a better offensive season than Garcia in 2019, and again, the White Sox need to find more runs somewhere.

Like anything with baseball roster management, it’ll come down to money. If the White Sox don’t feel like paying Avisail Garica more than $8 million for the type of production he provides, he’ll be a free agent this offseason. Where he could possibly land in a free market would be interesting, but not as much as how Hahn wants to go about improving production from this position.

 

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knoxfire30
Member

So being a sox fan I have nothing to back this up other then pure gut feel. If the sox sign mccutchen, brantley or jones they fall off a cliff and go the ways of dunn and rios. I guarantee it they will be bad and or hurt, we will get 4 months of stoney saying look at the back of the baseball card they are gonna come around and then they wont. Its the typical sox half hearted attempt to bolster their roster in free agency we have seen a bunch of times.

roke1960
Member

I agree completely. I don’t want a half-hearted attempt at free agency. That was tried and failed miserably a few years back. Adding one of those guys along with Machado would be ok- but they can’t be the main free agent signing. They NEED to sign someone from the top of the free agent list, and then supplement with mid-tier guys.

knoxfire30
Member

Right, those guys are finishing pieces they cant be the cornerstone of your offseason plan

Jer-in-Az
Member

What a depressing, eye opening post, thank you.  I initially read the headline and thought ‘I don’t have time right now to read this (seemingly) long list.’  That said, other than Harper, I would only want the Sox to sign one of those players on a cheap 1 or 2 year deal. 

soxygen
Member

The ‘Harper or nothing’ approach seems fraught. If they miss out on Harper, then maybe Brantley or Pollock on a 3-year deal would make sense. Otherwise you’re relying on the front office to get a whole lot done next offseason.

NateDPT12
Member

It seems like everything they’ve been doing since trading Sale in 2016 has done with an eye towards this offseason.  It’s no coincidence they have so much payroll space available this offseason, they’ve been positioning themselves to have that flexibility for Machado/Harper for 2 years. Indeed the argument for trading Sale/Quintana/Eaton was they could shorten the rebuild cycle with a massive influx of you talent.  They need to strike now on at least one of these generational talents who are hitting FA as they enter their prime that tits perfectly with your window of contention. 

You can’t expect to fill every hole internally through prospects. If you drop a superstar into the lineup, and address another hole or two in FA this year, you can combine it with your second wave coming up in 19/20 (Eloy, Cease, Dunning, Robert, Madrigal, Kopech). The. You use the 19 FA class to plug holes and you’ve got a potentially really good team for the next 6+ years.

Not to mention the transformational effect of signing someone like Harper to the organization. The national and local interest in the White Sox would skyrocket. I keep thinking of the Mr. Plow episode where the truck dealer is explaining to Homer how he’ll pay for the plow.  “Signing Bryce Harper wouldn’t cost money, it’d make money”

roke1960
Member

I hope Jerry and Rick read your post. It’s spot on. I too think they have been setting up for a run at Machado/Harper. Guys like this at this age rarely if ever make it to free agency. The unfortunate part of this is that several other teams have had the same philosophy, and there’s only 2 players for about 4-5 teams. That’s why the Sox have to really get creative in their offers. They have an advantage in selling the city of Chicago as a very attractive destination, more than almost anywhere besides NY. These guys have huge egos. Selling them as the absolute centerpiece of a young dynamic core is critical. And throwing lots and lots of $$$$ at them wouldn’t hurt.

knoxfire30
Member

I think their fortune is actually pretty good here, if the dodgers and redsox are off the board and likely yanks as well…. the odds of a successful bid sky rocket. Hard to imagine a better scenario then pocketing a ton of cash for 2 straight seasons, having currently a shockingly low payroll, having some of the biggest spenders in the game on the sidelines, having 2 superstar players hit free agency at a ridiculously young age, right before new local tv deals, and right before national tv and satellite radio deals. The amount of stars aligning is actually insane. The sox better walk away with 1 of the 2 big names, and I still cant find a good reason why they shouldnt be in on both.

roke1960
Member

I’m not sure the Yankees are out. It has to really burn them up to see the Red Sox with 4 WS titles to their 1 in this century. Plus they got under the luxury tax last year for a reason. I think with all the things you mentioned, the Sox actually have an advantage over the Phillies. I’m guessing Machado goes to the Yanks and Harper to the Sox.

roke1960
Member

And Harper would look pretty good hitting between Abreu and Eloy!

NateDPT12
Member

And if you sign Harper and miss out on Machado you go after Rendon or Arenado next year if you don’t have a good internal option for 3B. You don’t wait for them to potentially be available next offseason and sit out this one. 

knoxfire30
Member

Love that idea

ParisSox
Member

This discussion reminds me of when Jason Werth was the big free agent and he surprised everyone by joining the “lowly” Nationals at the time.

ChunkySlugger72
Member

Rick Hahn: I should really discuss this with my boss, Jerry Reinsdorf.

Scott Boras: Your boss? (Cracks Whip)

Rick Hahn: What? You think I’m going to sign a free agent to a 10 year $400 million contract just because you make that noise?

Scott Boras: (Continues cracking whip)

Rick Hahn: I’LL SIGN HIM !!!

yolmers gatorade
Member

I still think it depends on how competitive they are trying to be in 2019. If they want to really challenge the Indians, then cutting Garcia makes sense. But if 2019 is another development year or somewhere in between development and contention (like by putting some veterans on one year deals in the obvious holes), then rolling with Garcia is probably fine.

Maybe they could sign Adam Jones for around 5 million a year to supplement both Engel and Garcia.

roke1960
Member

Even if they don’t “plan” on being competitive in 2019, signing Harper or Machado still makes a ton of sense. They will still be there for the entirety of the next championship window (unless they opt out of course). This chance to sign a generational talent may not come around again.

ChunkySlugger72
Member

I’m not expecting both, But they have to sign one or the other (I think we have a legit shot at Machado) because how often does an elite young player of this caliber become available? Rarely. Most fans say their not ready to truly compete until 2020-2021 which I agree ,but we are in this for the long haul and the way I see it they have to “future proof” themselves for when that “Window” opens during that time frame, If they go for that typical “White Sox” signing for an older player like Brantley or Mccutchen for 3 years that’s just a short term fix, By the time we are ready then what? Their declining in their mid 30’s and on the last year of their contract by 2020-2021, When Harper or Machado will both be 28/29 and right in their prime for years to come.

Our team is young and our system is thriving,We have the payroll and market to pull it off, They have been preparing this for 2 seasons and the time for action is now.

Go big or Go Home.

armchairGM
Member

i wouldn’t hate the idea of playing avi for another (at least) half-season if they don’t sign harper. eloy spent most of his games in left field, and i doubt any of jones/mccutchen/brantley/pollock can be signed for 8M. even if avi is just wishcasting at this point, you could do a lot worse in the outfield corners than avi & eloy for 8.5 mil.

Soxfan2
Member

Lonnie Chisenhall, who isn’t good by any means, but is better than Avi just signed for $2.75 million. You can get a player that provides similar or better value for a fraction of the price. 

KenWo4LiFe
Member

McCutchen and Machado would make for a happy KenWo.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

If Lonnie Chisenhall gets $2.75M or whatever there is absolutely no reason to pay Avisail Garcia $8M.

lil jimmy
Member

I wonder. Maybe the White Sox tell Avi’s agent they don’t intend to offer arbitration. They will however agree to terms. Maybe 6 million gets it done.

roke1960
Member

I thought about that too. But I think they could get him for less than $6 million. I say just non-tender him, and if they lose out on Harper or any of the other outfielders, come back to him. I doubt anyone will sign him quickly.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I sorta liked Adam Jones as a fallback if they whiff on Harper or even Pollock (or even take him alongside Pollock, just don’t put Jones in CF every day!). He’s a credible veteran who still has a reliable enough bat, isn’t liable to cost much more than Avi, and has been durable throughout his career. A move to right field could help mitigate some of his defensive decline as well, though he’s still likely to be sub-par. Nonetheless, I’d take his baseline performance and reliability over Avi, and since he could be had short term he’d be a good bridge to the next offseason and might still have enough value to bring a return at the trade deadline if desired.

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