They haven’t moved on from Avisail Garcia, but the White Sox have let teams know the outfielder can be acquired in the right deal.
With several positions of need, not many big league assets to trade and a replacement lined up, the White Sox have entertained offers for the young right fielder this month, according to major league sources.
A trade for Garcia is just one of a number of solutions the White Sox have considered as they attempt to fill out the left side of their infield and improve their offense.
General manager Rick Hahn declined to comment on Garcia’s trade availability. But at last week’s GM meetings, Hahn said the White Sox remain optimistic about Garcia, who had a .257/.309/.365 slash line with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs in 601 plate appearances in 2015.
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“We can’t lose sight of the fact that he was still playing last year at 24, at a young age,” Hahn said. “That really was his first full season in the majors.
“The ceiling is still extremely high. Certainly everyone, including Avi, would have preferred to show more consistency and flashes of that upside on a more consistent basis. But it doesn’t change the optimism around him for the future.”
While the team’s confidence in Garcia hasn’t publicly wavered, their options around him have improved.
The centerpiece of a three-team trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston in July 2013, Garcia -- who is arbitration eligible this offseason -- has been the club’s Opening Day right fielder in each of the past two seasons. But the addition of Melky Cabrera last offseason along with a strong performance by rookie Trayce Thompson down the stretch in 2015 have given the White Sox license to at least consider moving Garcia, who was at times the club’s best hitter and at others the most aggravating.
One National League scout said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Garcia, who struck out 54 times and drew only eight walks from June 9-Aug. 3, on the trade block.
“Their people are very frustrated with him,” the scout said.
Part of the frustration has to stem from the flashes of potential Garcia has shown. Over his other 102 games, Garcia walked once for every three strikeouts as he made adjustments in his stance that better allowed him to see pitches. Minus his lengthy slump, Garcia hit .269/.329/.412 with 27 extra-base hits, including 11 homers, and 46 RBIs.
“His window is not gone yet,” said one American League evaluator. “There’s still plenty of time.”
Ideally, Garcia would tap into the pull-power potential that Paul Konerko once said is capable of producing 40 home runs while with the White Sox. But with the emergence of Thompson, who has the team’s best outfield glove, the White Sox may have to include Garcia -- a below-average defender -- to sweeten a deal to return major league talent. Though they brought Thompson along slowly after his August promotion, the White Sox are enamored with his potential. They still need to see more from him, which ultimately may lead them to holding onto Garcia, but Thompson opened some eyes.
“I think Trayce has shown the ability to start,” Hahn said last week. “How we make that work is probably a better question come spring once we see how the whole roster looks. We’ve known from Trayce for the last several years he can be an above-average major league defender at three outfield positions. That gives us a little flexibility on how to work him in best and he’s certainly from an offensive standpoint showed he deserves to play. That’ll either work itself out before spring based on transactions or come spring we’ll figure out a way to use him best.”
With Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton both owed considerable money, Garcia would be the easiest player to move to open space for Thompson. But as appealing as that option may be, the White Sox might not be inclined to let go of Garcia, who oozes potential.
“The confidence is still there in Avi very much,” Hahn said in October. “He’s still a developing player.
“Avi is nowhere near the player we foresee him being. But you see flashes of it, you know the talent is there, and age is very much on his side. That’s a player that has specifically been given a plan about what we’re expecting from him going forward, and a roadmap to get there. Now it’s going to be incumbent on him to follow that roadmap.”