The White Sox’ other arbitration-eligible Garcia(Keith Allison / Flickr)

The White Sox’ other arbitration-eligible Garcia

While his projected salary is considerably lower, injuries limit Leury Garcia's potential as much they do Avisail's

In a day — day and a half, tops — White Sox fans could be done arguing over Avisail Garcia forever.

Friday marks the non-tender deadline, and the decision regarding a contract for Garcia is front of mind, as well as top of page on whitesox.com. Scott Merkin didn’t tilt either way with his contemplation:

But a non-tender of Garcia might serve as a greater indication of the White Sox underlying confidence in adding an outfielder during the coming months. Garcia, much like [Jose] Abreu, is under his last year of contractual control with the White Sox, but as Hahn pointed out, there’s not a rush to make a long-term decision on these players.

Abreu seems more likely to be part of the contending White Sox plans than Garcia, especially with the White Sox teeming with young outfield talent; seven of their present top 15 prospects are outfielders.

Garcia’s merits (tremendous 2017, newfound power despite injuries in 2018) and demerits (injuries in 2018, everything besides 2017) basically make him a typical end-of-winter acquisition. If a GM found his team a little short on corner production and couldn’t convert on other players during the offseason, Garcia wouldn’t be the worst player to turn to.

Contract situations being what they are, though, Garcia has to be among the White Sox’ first choices, and there’s reason to believe the Sox could do better for that $8 million.

He’s not the only arbitration-eligible Garcia the White Sox have, nor is he the only one worth considering. Leury Garcia’s situation could be just as much of a bellwether for the size of the overhaul Rick Hahn has in mind.

Granted, Leury Garcia’s contract figure is a lot easier to absorb than Avisail’s. MLB Trade Rumors has him projected to make $1.9 million during his second year in arbitration, which isn’t a bad number for somebody who can play all three positions up the middle.

He flashed starter quality for a moment, hitting .298/.345/.459 with a greatly reduced strikeout rate over his first 200 plate appearances in 2017. Then he injured his thumb on a slide, and he hasn’t been able to rediscover that form since. In 400 plate appearances since that injury, he’s batting .257/.292/.374, with the strikeout rate regressing on him and leg injuries scattered throughout. That .800 OPS now looks like an aberration, whether due to a random small sample, the juiced ball or both.

Like Avisail Garcia, Leury Garcia is eminently rosterable at some point over the winter. But like Avisail, there are a bunch of players who can cover a lot of Leury’s skills. Sizing up Leury against the list of non-tender candidates and the Rule 5 pool, and I wonder if the Sox would rather explore the freedom of that 40-man (and 25-man) roster spot.

The biggest specific selling point for Leury is that he’s the only one who can keep Adam Engel honest in center, at least among talent on hand. Ryan Cordell hit .108/.125/.216 with zero walks and 15 strikeouts over 40 plate appearances in September, and didn’t stand out in Charlotte before that. As unimpressive as Cordell was, Charlie Tilson didn’t even warrant a September call-up.

So indeed, Garcia is the only solid bet to outproduce Engel … except Garcia’s been in this supposed safeguard role for the last two seasons, and his injuries have entrenched Engel more than anything else.

If I had a gun to my head about this, that’d be weird. Regardless, I’d wager the White Sox will tender Garcia a contract, because that’s typically been their style among useful players making less than $2 million. It doesn’t stop the Sox from pursuing upgrades, even if it results in them designating Garcia for assignment later in the winter.

But there is opportunity cost to consider here with roster spots, and when tabulating the entries in the Offseason Plan Project, more than a quarter of the planners saw the same possibilities available by opting for flexibility, even if there’s some irony involved non-tendering a player known for his versatility.

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knoxfire30
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knoxfire30

Tender L garcia, and wait and see how the offseason plays out, its a small gamble that you can mostly get out of later in the offseason

Non Tender A garcia. Way more negative outcomes then positives ones attach themselves to bringing him back on a 1 year 8 mil deal

As Cirensica
Member

Agree

Jer-in-Az
Member

Agreed, Leury has value outside of the organization as well. If push came to shove something could be received in return for him. 

asinwreck
Member

Rec’d for “If I had a gun to my head about this, that’d be weird.”

fustercluck
Member
fustercluck

what does it say about the current state of things that I wouldn’t find it all that weird

Lurker Laura
Member
Lurker Laura

Sox state of things, or general society state of things? (potato, potahto)

yolmers gatorade
Member

L. Garcia is an easy tender for me. His numbers say bench players that can fairly well fill in for a couple weeks when someone gets injured. Even if the Sox sign two outfielders, Garcia is worth it because he can provide 1 WAR as a bench player and spot starter. His positional flexibility and switch hitting add to his value too.

ParisSox
Member

As Jim said above there are a few players like that.  However I believe Leury’s “value” to the White Sox comes in familiarity.  Ergo he shall be tendered.  

roke1960
Member

There are so many players out there with the same skill set, that I could easily see them non-tendering him. Wait to see what they can get in free agency, then possibly fill in that roster spot at the end of the winter. Hopefully, they make a few signings that allow Engel to move into that 4th outfield spot.

yolmers gatorade
Member

How many can play every position but catcher?

Trooper Galactus
Member

At this point, shit, just try him at catcher. The framing can’t get any worse than it’s been.

Trooper Galactus
Member

They tendered Dayan Viciedo for over twice this money when he demonstrated rather clearly he had zero use on the team. I’d think they could at least tender Leury and release him for a pittance before the season if they need the roster spot. At a minimum, he provides a bit of insurance while the free agent market plays out.

Eagle Bones
Member

Tender him now, release him later if they find a better use for the roster spot.

zerobs
Member
zerobs

Reason to tender Leury: utility switch hitter with some speed gives the manager some flexibility 

Reason to nontender Leury: Ricky will just have him bunt which he kinda sucks at. 

Trooper Galactus
Member

If that’s a reason to non-tender, they might as well release every player on the roster.

zerobs
Member
zerobs

These should not be tough decisions for a rebuilding team. They just finished their age 27 seasons and there is still doubt they can even produce 1.5 WAR. They should have been non-tendered weeks ago. Wasn’t their low value determined during the revocable waivers period?

Trooper Galactus
Member

The issue at hand is Avi will cost over four times more to retain. Leury doesn’t have to really do much of anything to justify either his roster spot (due to positional flexibility) or his projected salary.

zerobs
Member
zerobs

It isn’t about cost. Two years into a rebuild and both players have proven after SIX years on the 40 man that 1.5 WAR is doubtful. A rebuild means you get rid of players like this. 

yolmers gatorade
Member

Neither Garcia is really blocking anyone, and L. Garcia probably could get 1.5 WAR over a full season.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Leury wouldn’t have to produce even 1.5 WAR to justify a roster spot as a super-utility player nor a $1.9 million salary. He’s, at a minimum, a buffer for the next wave of talents faltering or the current guys getting injured.

Avi, on the other hand, is not liable to do anything to justify $8 million, nor does he have the sort of utility to be a fall-back plan for anything. He’s either an unexceptional Plan A or nothing.

zerobs
Member
zerobs

This isn’t a sabremetric exercise. This is a losing team in a rebuild – these are veteran (read: old) players in low demand that need to be moved out for players one or two years younger who you will have to decide upon at this time next year.

Trooper Galactus
Member

As YG suggested, Leury is not really blocking anybody, and even if he were he would be eminently tradeable. Avi, on the other hand, will generate zero interest at $8 million.

moncada5ever
Member

The Met’s trade gives me flashbacks to the Sox trading for Frazier and signing Robertson. They seem like they are going to end up in the middle area between the contenders and the tanking and be stuck.

roke1960
Member

Well, so much for all that speculation. Leury signs for $1.55 million. Even more valuable at that cost.