White Sox

Will Avisail Garcia be traded this offseason? More important question is whether he can replicate 2017 success


Will Avisail Garcia be traded this offseason? More important question is whether he can replicate 2017 success

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Will Avisail Garcia be traded this offseason?

With his name completely absent from trade rumors, the logical conclusion to draw is a “no.”

But there is a more pertinent question, the answer to which will go a long way in determining whether Garcia ever gets dealt away from the South Side: Will he repeat what he did in 2017?

Garcia was an All Star last season and one of the best hitters in the American League. He slashed .330/.380/.506 during his breakout season, ranking second in the AL in batting average (behind only MVP Jose Altuve) and sixth in on-base percentage.

It’s that production that figured to make him a trade chip for the White Sox this season, joining Jose Abreu as valuable bats the team could deal away and further bolster their highly ranked farm system, perhaps acquiring packages of minor league talent similar to the ones received in deals involving Chris Sale and Adam Eaton last December and the one involving Jose Quintana in July.

But there’s been little to no reported interest from other clubs, leading to the conjecture that any teams thinking about adding Garcia in a deal are waiting to make sure 2017 wasn’t a fluke. After all, Garcia’s been at this whole Major League Baseball thing a while now, in the bigs since 2012. He’s had high hopes and lots of hype both with the Detroit Tigers and with the White Sox. And really, he failed to put it completely together until last season.

If Garcia can keep hitting and hitting big in 2018, then interest would figure to pick up. Garcia is under team control for two more seasons, giving the White Sox options when it comes to keeping him or moving him. If they can bring back a lot of young talent, it’d make sense to move him. If he hits really well (remember, he’s only 26 years old), the White Sox could choose to extend him and keep as a centerpiece of this rebuilding effort.

The possibilities are many. But regardless of what the eventual fate ends up being, the White Sox are indeed confident that Garcia can keep the momentum from 2017 going.

“I understand if there’s some teams that have some level of skepticism of Avi’s ability to repeat what he did, his All-Star season,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday at the Winter Meetings. “I think that us being in the position to see the amount of work and commitment that went into that, not just with the weight loss, the change in diet, the fitness but the mechanical adjustments, the approach each and everyday to carry that ‘close and late’ approach that he had in ’14, ’15 and ’16 over to every at-bat, and carry that approach over 500 plate appearances in 2017, I think each of those things give us more confidence that this is closer than to the new normal for Avi than what we previously saw from him prior to 2017.

“So maybe that does make us value him more than other clubs because they have that skepticism about his ability to repeat. He’s a player who everyone throughout baseball was bullish on his tools for many years. He’s now entering his prime and he’s played at an All-Star caliber level in the recent past. That’s a valuable guy.”

As Hahn mentioned, the White Sox know what went into Garcia finally figuring things out last season. It’s what makes them think so highly of him and makes them think he can keep doing what he did in 2017.

While Hahn hasn’t shown any timidity when it comes to trading big names (Sale, Eaton, Quintana), the team admits there is value they see that other teams can’t. Abreu is extremely valuable for his clubhouse contributions. In Garcia, the White Sox have seen his evolution and know how good he can be.

Will that impact the likelihood of a deal, now or in the future? Maybe. Garcia — and Abreu, too — provide options for Hahn and his front office. But in order to keep all of those options available, Garcia has to have another strong season at the plate.

The White Sox think he can do it.

“Confidence for him has been a key to his growth,” manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “His routines and some adjustments that he’s made have helped him maintain that consistency. I’ve only been here a couple years. The first year he started off pretty good and then he kind of tailed off. Last year he maintained and had a little wall but then he continued to move forward. I think that’s just his experience and understanding that he is a good player.

“He has confidence that he’s a good player, but he’s also understood that the work that’s been putting in was going to ultimately pay off, it started to. I think for him it’s just continuing to maintain the consistency in which he did last year. I think that is very possible.

“I don’t know that he’ll hit .330. Somebody just asked me that a little while ago. They say, 'between .315 and .330?' Yeah, I’ll see that. All I know is that if he maintains that consistent approach that he’s had both emotionally, confidently and the work structure, he’s got a good chance of doing what he did last year.”

As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view


As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view

White Sox third baseman Matt Davidson has in his mind an ideal number of times he’d strike out in a season.

“If I had it my way I’d probably strike out 20 times a year but I don’t know how you do that, really,” Davidson said before the Sox defeated the Royals 9-3 on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It’s not realistic for an everyday player to go through the season with that few strikeouts, especially on a Sox team that entered Friday’s game with 1,163 of them, the second-highest total in the major-leagues behind the Rangers’ 1,168. The Sox were on pace to strike out 1,570 times, which would break the franchise record of 1,397 set last season.

Against the Royals, the Sox struck out seven times, but made more than enough contact—including three-run home runs from Jose Abreu and Nicky Delmonico—to win for the eighth time in their last 14 games.

With the Sox going through the trials and tribulations that come along with a radical rebuild, perhaps it’s not a surprise the team strikes out as much as it has the past two seasons. They are young, aggressive at the plate and still learning at the major-league level.

“It’s just some of the experience and learning your swing and trying to improve on it every single year,” said Davidson, who went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Friday night. “I don’t think coming up (in the minors) everybody was striking out as much as we do here so that just shows that the competition is better and we’re just also trying to learn.

“The MLB (web site) has a section just showing how nasty pitches are,” Davidson added. “Guys are really good here. It’s just a part of learning. It’s about seeing the ball, learning the zone, learning counts and understanding when they’re going to throw stirkes and when they’re going to throw balls and also just putting the bat on the ball.”

The Sox were particularly susceptible to the strikeout when they fanned 10-plus times during an eight-game stretch from Aug. 5-13, a franchise record. They fell one game short of matching the dubious major-league record of nine consecutive games with 10-plus Ks set by the Brewers in 2017.

Sox manager Rick Renteria said the cause of all the strikeouts “depends on who you want to look at. You could look at it collectively (or) you can look at it individually. We have one of the young men (Yoan Moncada) who has quite a few under his belt, both looking and swinging (for a major-league leading 172 this season). Two-strike approach obviously is something we talk about a lot and still has to be implemented in practical terms so that it's useful. We don't want our guys swinging out of the zone. We do want them to be able to defend themselves and keep a ball in play possibly when need be.

“But I'm not thinking in regards of how (strikeouts) continue to mount and what that indicates or doesn't indicate,” Renteria added. “We look at all of our guys individually and figure out what it is we can help them with in terms of attacking that strike zone and being ready to hit.”

Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury


Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury

Rick Renteria proved once again that he won’t let his boys quit.

The White Sox manager pulled Avisail Garcia from Friday night’s 9-3 victory over the Royals after the outfielder failed to run hard out of the box during a first-inning flyout. It wasn’t the first time Renteria has made a point by pulling a player during a game. Garcia was yanked from a spring training contest for not running hard out of the box and Tim Anderson got the same treatment in July.

“I didn’t think (Garcia) had given me an effort on the Texas Leaguer,” Renteria said after Friday’s victory. “If the ball falls in, you have to possibly advance.”

Renteria was quick to point out that Garcia is playing with a right knee injury that the right fielder said would have to be addressed—likely with surgery—during the offseason.

“He does have a knee that’s bothering him a little bit,” Renteria said. “I told him, ‘you certainly looked like something was bothering you.’ He said, ‘I felt it click when I came out of the box.’ ‘I said you understand you can still give me a better effort out of the box (and) he said, ‘yes, I understand that. I’m feeling this.’ We addressed it a little bit. He’ll be back in there (Saturday night). He realizes he still feels he can give us a little better effort.”

Garcia, who has been on the disabled list twice this season due to hamstring injuries, said he understood Renteria’s decision. 

“I felt a click (in the knee) and I didn’t run,” Garcia said. “Even if I felt a click I can do a better effort if I want to play and I want to play. That’s why they take me out. I felt a click and I was a little bit scared about it but I’m OK.”

Renteria said it is important down the stretch to communicate with Garcia when it comes to managing his knee.

“That’s why we had the conversation,” Renteria said. “He doesn’t want to come out of the lineup. He says he can play every day, he says, ‘I can manage this, I can play through this, I’ll be fine.’ I said then give me a little more effort on some of those plays. I get it that you may feel it but if you feel it, just explain to me what’s going on and we can manage it that way. He really doesn’t want to come out. He wants to play.

“We’ve never had a problem with (Garcia),” Renteria added. “Despite a couple times here or there where we’ve taken him out, if you watch him he busts his rear end pretty much all the time. That was a rarity. At that particular point in time it was my decision to pull him out.”

Garcia said he will continue to play through the knee issue.

“I just have to keep going,” Garcia said. “But I was scared a little bit because I felt like a click. But at the same time, I didn’t run hard enough so I’m OK with it. I’m good to play.”

When asked if Garcia will get the knee taken care of following the season, he responded, “yeah, for sure. One-hundred percent.”