White Sox

The Avisail Garcia Era is over as future-focused White Sox non-tender their right fielder

The Avisail Garcia Era is over as future-focused White Sox non-tender their right fielder

The Avi Garcia experiment is over on the South Side.

The White Sox opted not to tender a contract to the guy who’s been their right fielder for the past six seasons, making him a free agent and suddenly putting “corner outfielder” in a high spot on their offseason to-do list.

Garcia was acquired way back in the three-team Jake Peavy trade at the 2013 trade deadline. He came over from the division-rival Detroit Tigers with a decent amount of hype, folks comparing his build and skill set to that of then-perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera. But his numbers rarely looked like Cabrera’s, and Garcia finished his White Sox tenure with a .271/.322/.434 slash line. His power never emerged, either, as he hit a grand total of 74 home runs in six seasons with the White Sox.

That did not stop fans, observers or the front office, however, from insisting he could still be part of the long-term future. Just one season ago, in 2017, he had a breakout campaign, his .330 batting average and .380 on-base percentage making him one of the best hitters in the American League, statistically.

But he was injured from the jump in 2018, admitting at the end of September that he’d been playing with a knee injury since Opening Day. That injury led to hamstring injuries that sent him to the disabled list multiple times. While he ended 2018 with a career-high 19 home runs, his .236/.281/.438 slash line and only 93 games’ worth of action made his future near impossible to forecast.

With one year of team control remaining before his regularly scheduled free agency, the White Sox were reportedly trying to find a trade partner for Garcia this winter. But that same report carried with it the idea that he could wind up a non-tender candidate if no deal was found. And that’s what ended up happening.

Garcia is still relatively young, only heading into his age-28 season, but he’ll be doing it somewhere besides the South Side of Chicago as Rick Hahn’s front office finally determined he wasn’t a fit with their long-term plans and that the $8 million he was projected to receive through the arbitration process would be better spent elsewhere.

The decision creates a short-term hole in the White Sox everyday lineup for the 2019 season. Entering the offseason, the White Sox figured to have an unofficial platoon of Nicky Delmonico and Leury Garcia in left field, Adam Engel in center and Avi Garcia in right. Top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez is expected to reach the majors early in 2019, and after he played mostly left field in the minor leagues last season, he’d figure to slide into that spot at the big league level, too.

So who will step in in right? Many of the outfielders currently part of the team failed to impress offensively in 2018: Delmonico, Ryan Cordell and Charlie Tilson. Daniel Palka, who hit 27 home runs as a rookie in 2018, is certainly an option, though he’s perhaps better suited for the role of the team’s regular designated hitter. Leury Garcia was injured in 2018 and played in fewer games than Avi Garcia did, and he slashed just .271/.303/.376 when healthy. Plus, it’s likely the White Sox would be upset to see his valuable versatility negated by making him an everyday player in right.

The point being: With Avi Garcia non-tendered, adding a corner outfielder might now shoot near the top of Hahn’s offseason to-do list. It might only need to be a short-term addition, what with the amount of outfield depth in the organization’s loaded farm system. That could mean a veteran on a one- or two-year contract. But the vacancy will also bring to mind potential long-term options, such as the star of this year’s free-agent class, Bryce Harper, who the White Sox are reportedly interested in.

Here’s a sampling of the list of free-agent outfielders as of this writing: Michael Brantley, Derek Dietrich, Carlos Gonzalez, Marwin Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Harper, Jon Jay, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Gerardo Parra.

Will one of those guys be the White Sox everyday right fielder in 2019?

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Everything we learned from Rick Hahn at the G.M. Meetings


White Sox Talk Podcast: Everything we learned from Rick Hahn at the G.M. Meetings

Chuck Garfien speaks with Vinnie Duber who is covering the G.M. Meetings in Arizona where Rick Hahn spoke with the media for the first time in the offseason.

Why Vinnie's big takeaway is "don't take anything off the table" this offseason for the White Sox (1:45), Hahn talks about signing premium free agents and the Machado experience (6:00), weighing defense vs. hitting for who they get to play right field (9:10), would they move Yoan Moncada from third base if they signed a certain free agent?(11:45), where are things with Jose Abreu (21:00) and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast


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No move is off the table for White Sox this offseason

No move is off the table for White Sox this offseason

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — What exactly will the White Sox do this offseason? If you have access to some truth serum, you’ve got a decent shot at finding out.

Despite the seemingly public nature of the White Sox pursuit of Manny Machado last winter, Rick Hahn doesn’t really talk about specific targets. So there was no word from the general manager Tuesday on whether there actually exist attempts to lure Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg or your heretofore unnamed favorite free agent to the South Side.

But there was one big takeaway from Hahn’s roughly 45-minute session with reporters at the GM meetings: No move is off the table for the White Sox this winter.

We’ve long analyzed whether Player X fits better than Player Y, whether the White Sox are looking for a long-term piece or should be targeting short-term pieces, whether it makes any sense to pursue a player who plays a position the White Sox already have spoken for, et cetera, et cetera.

Well forget about all those disclaimers. There seems to be no door Hahn’s front office is going to close in the name of improving this team.

Just go down the list of potential additions the White Sox could make this winter, and you’ll see what I mean.

Short-term additions are on the table

Are the White Sox, who have long touted the importance of long-term fits, still shying away from shorter-term additions? No. Long-term additions are better, but … 

“We're getting closer to the point where it makes more sense to have one- or two-year fixes in place. Ideally, we want to find a way to add to the core, guys that are going to be here for a long time and continue to grow with what we've already accumulated. In reality, that's a little easier said than done, so some of the improvements may come on a shorter-term basis.

“Yeah, we've gotten to that point where it does make some sense to add a couple of those types.”

Older veterans who haven’t always seemed like the best fit for a young, rebuilding team? Now that the White Sox are nearing their transition from rebuilding to contending, those guys become realistic options. On the table.

A trade for a player with one year of control (like Mookie Betts) is on the table

Would the White Sox trade for a player with just one season of club control remaining on his contract? Yes. Guys with more control are better, but … 

“You want guys who are going to fit for the long-term,” Hahn said. “We want to add a guy who's got a three-, four-, five-, six-year window of control, where he's going to continue to improve and he's going to grow with this young core. Those guys aren't so easy to acquire.

“Short of that, we're going to look for guys who can certainly make you better in the short-term but ideally have a little back-end control. If those don't exist, if we don't come across the right fit, then we'd be open to a one-year improvement knowing that with where we've put ourselves economically, we might have the ability to retain that player when they hit free agency.”

Interesting, considering the Boston Red Sox might be dealing away Mookie Betts in their quest to get under the luxury tax. Betts seems set on heading to free agency after next season, meaning whichever team acquires him would only be doing so for one year. But the White Sox could use a player of that caliber in their lineup and a player of that caliber in right field. Sounds like they wouldn’t exactly lack confidence in their ability to make his stay last more than just one year, either. On the table.

A right fielder who plays suboptimal defense (like Nicholas Castellanos) is on the table

Speaking of right field, just how important the White Sox add a right fielder who can play some defense? Very. But … 

“It’s a legitimate consideration. We don't want to send somebody out there and it's going to, you know, tax our center fielder too much or tax the pitchers too much by not making plays,” Hahn said. “So it's a legitimate consideration.

“I pause half a step because we have discussed some pretty good offensive contributors who might not quite be up to snuff to what you want defensively that conceivably at some point in the offseason we wind up saying, ‘They're the best option, so let's move on it.’ So I don't want to just say it's the end all be all.”

Interesting, considering that the top outfielder on the free-agent market fits the description of someone who swings a difference-making bat but might not be “up to snuff” defensively. Castellanos’ offense is not a question, and while his defense is probably not as bad as his reputation would lead you to believe, the reputation exists for a reason. Putting him in the same outfield with work-in-progress Eloy Jimenez would be less than ideal. But putting their bats in the same lineup might be too much to pass up. On the table.

A professional DH (like Edwin Encarnacion) is on the table

When adding a designated hitter, do the White Sox want someone who has plenty of DH-ing experience and could DH on an everyday basis? No. But … 

“We're not eager to get locked in with someone positionally who can only DH,” Hahn said. “I think having a guy who can fill that role but also go out and play a defensive position would be a net greater benefit. We're talking about generic, hypothetical players.

“If you're talking about a guy Nelson Cruz, yeah, you're OK with that guy just being a DH. If you're talking about lower caliber guy than that, then maybe you want them to add some defensive value, as well, to move them around the diamond and get other guys off their feet from time to time.”

Ideally, the White Sox would like some versatility. It’d be nice to have a Cruz-esque thumper at DH, too. One of those exists on the free-agent market in Edwin Encarnacion. On the table.

A player who plays position the White Sox already have (like Anthony Rendon) is on the table

And what about Rendon? He’s the top position player on the free-agent market. He also plays third base, the same position Yoan Moncada does. Moncada had himself a terrific year playing third for the White Sox. Would they change his position for a second straight season? They don’t want to. But … 

“In terms of moving Yoan, that's not a goal. We're not looking to move him,” Hahn said. “We think he's a really, really good third baseman and will be that for a long time.

“When we have players with flexibility and athleticism, you at least consider different permutations. We wouldn't be doing our job if there was a way for us to get better that we just ruled out because we have set at a certain spot.”

Interesting. Rendon seems like the type of player you rearrange your defense for. He’s one of the best hitters in the game and would accomplish the White Sox goal of adding a premium talent to their rebuilding project. Moncada’s versatility could play a big role in that. On the table.

Top-of-the-rotation pitchers (like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg) are on the table

What kind of starting pitchers are the White Sox looking for this winter? Top-of-the-rotation guys or middle-of-the-rotation guys?

“We have room for improvement in both spots,” Hahn said. “We'll continue the trade and free-agent market for all different types of starters, and any ones that we feel are going to make us better both short- and potentially long-term, we'll be in on.”

That’s extraordinarily all-encompassing, but instead of viewing it as the White Sox not saying much, view it as there being many different possibilities. Cole and Strasburg fit the mold of top-of-the-rotation arms, as do fellow free agents Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel. Zack Wheeler and Jake Odorizzi might be more of the middle-of-the-rotation types. All of them and more are on the table.


That’s a breakneck assessment of the situations, but the takeaway remains: No move appears to be off the table for the White Sox in this stage of the offseason, and that ought to have folks looking for big splashes at every turn pretty excited.

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