It wouldn’t truly be an Avisail Garcia season if it left you any closer to wondering where the White Sox should go from here.
As Garcia closes out a disappointing season, he revealed to reporters the extent of his leg injuries. Apparently, they’ve plagued him throughout the entire regular season — no more, no less.
“Early in the season, Opening Day,” García said. “I feel something in my knee. I had been feeling something, something, something and then I started feeling my hammy because I think I was favoring it. Especially because it’s my right knee, and that’s where all my power is. It’s crazy, but it is what it is.” […]
“Everybody knows it’s hard when you get (an) injury and then sit down and then go play, and then sit down again. It’s hard to be consistent like that. This game is difficult so you have to be out there every day so you get used to it and it’s hard to play like this. But it is what it is. It’s not an excuse. Everybody knows that. I’ve been playing like this so I’m trying to do my best.”
The emphasis on the back-to-back cliches is mine, because I think Garcia would admit that it’s at least a partial excuse for his down year. It was only a few weeks between this Garcia report and his first DL stint, and while it doesn’t cover for the poor approach Garcia (and others) showed with runners in scoring position at the beginning of the season, it should’ve been enough to get out of that ridiculous benching Rick Renteria handed him.
What makes this an especially Avi Garcia Scenario is that, on the same night he gave the Sox one potential reason to non-tender him — he can’t stay healthy — he gave the Sox a reason to keep him one more year. He set a career high in homers, knocking No. 19 in the form of a majestic blast off Trevor Bauer.
Before this season, Garcia had never hit more than 18 homers in even his fuller seasons. In an injury-ravaged 2019, he’s up to 19 in just 89 games. That’s good for a .209 ISO, which is the kind of power output that would’ve put his value squarely in the black if you could add it to his previous lines like so:
- 2015: .257/.309/.466
- 2016: .245/.307/.454
- 2017: .330/.380/.539
It might not have been enough to change the course of the first rebuild, but at least one could look at Garcia and understand one thing he did well. Instead, it showed up in a year where his plate discipline degenerated and bum wheels hampered his range, so he’s back to undermining his own gains.
At this point, I’m pretty much resigned to any Garcia decision being the wrong one. If the White Sox give him a contract for 2019, he’ll hit the DL a couple more times and his time in Chicago will finish with a fitting fizzle. If the White Sox non-tender him, I can see FanGraphs touting the ISO surge and his improved launch angle on fastballs and breaking pitches and saying he’s the exact kind of player a rebuilding team should try to repair.
I think if Nicky Delmonico had taken a next step in his development, then I’d be more interested in moving on from Garcia and accepting the risk, given that Delmonico has five more years of team control. But Delmonico is only 13 months younger than Garcia, and there’s nothing especially valuable about his profile at this point. He’s hitting .217/.301/.382, with his walks, strikeouts and power all going the wrong direction.
Garcia’s track record means everybody who plays his position remains well in play, whether it’s because of his performance or health. That makes Delmonico useful on a depth chart, but probably with an “AAAA” tag on him until he finds a second wind. Then you can probably accommodate everybody who deserves some amount of MLB plate appearances in 2019 — Garcia, Daniel Palka, Matt Davidson — while keeping the path to the majors open for Eloy Jimenez. If the White Sox were interested in making Davidson the eighth bullpen arm, it’s be easier still.