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.