Avisail Garcia finds soft landing spot in Tampa Bay

After six trying seasons with the White Sox — and even the successful season was frustrating — Avisail Garcia exhausted the benefit of the doubt.

Somehow, he landed in one of the few places that could make you rethink his future. He’s joining the Tampa Bay Rays on a deal that guarantees him less than half of his arbitration estimate:

Garcia hit just .236/.281/.438 during a season that was undermined by a knee issue on Opening Day. The unprecedented power to the pull field he showed despite the leg problems made it a little tempting to let him ride out his South Side career through the original team control period, but the combination of injuries and limitations made it too poor a bet for the projected $8 million salary.

It’s always worth noting when the Rays come calling, because they have a knack for getting the random 30-homer season out of a player.

In 2016, Brad Miller exploded in a full-time role …

  • 2014-15 (avg): .241/.310/.385, 10 HR over 454 PA
  • 2016: .243/.304/.482, 30 HR over 601 PA

… followed by Logan Morrison in 2017 …

  • 2011-16 (avg): .240/.318/.412, 14 HR over 411 PA
  • 2017: .246/.353/.516, 38 HR over 601 PA

… and C.J. Cron in 2018:

  • 2015-17 (avg): .263/.311/448, 16 HR over 407 PA
  • 2018: .253/.323/.493, 30 HR over 560 PA

And Garcia, who set a career high with 19 homers in 2018 despite playing just 93 games, would be a perfect candidate for that club, at least if likely DH platoon partner Ji-Man Choi doesn’t beat him to it.

Prior to 2018, Garcia made his difficult living coming up with extra-base hits to the opposite field, but he figured out how to forge a more traditional power path last season.

The Rays have seen the power first-hand, at least when you look at his home runs by stadium:

  1. Guaranteed Rate Field, 32 homers over 295 games
  2. Comerica Park, 8 homers over 70 games
  3. Tropicana Field, 6 homers over 16 games
  4. Target Field, 4 homers over 41 games
  5. Four tied with 3

That number includes two in one game on Aug. 5 last season:

The Rays needed right-handed power, and Garcia has shown an ability to thump lefties, hitting .367/.406/.537 against southpaws over the last two seasons. Maybe the Rays could’ve set their sights higher, but it’s a great landing spot for Garcia, and I can see him either setting career highs or playing his part in a highly cost-effective platoon with Choi.

That thought process sounds fatalistic, but I doubt there’ll be pangs of remorse. Garcia’s not a great bet to stay healthy, and even if he does, the Rays have a history of discarding DHs without selling high. Morrison and Cron both ended up with Minnesota after their breakouts, with the latter getting designated for assignment. Corey Dickerson got the Cron treatment the year before, with his DFA resulting in a trade to Pittsburgh. Hell, the White Sox might be able to get Garcia right back if anybody misses him enough, although apparently the Twins have auto-dibs.

Whatever remaining doubt or concerns will be completely eliminated if the Sox land Manny Machado under the “Who Cares? We Got Manny” bylaw in the team-fan CBA. Without Machado, maybe you can scrutinize the $8 million for Yonder Alonso and compare him to a similarly paid player over the course of the season. But if Machado’s in the fold, then Alonso is more of a concept than a DH, Garcia merits a shrug, and instead you can direct your attention to the Rays potentially bringing a different White Sox dream to life.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are interested in former White Sox infielder Matt Davidson as a potential two-way player.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Avi has always been a KenWo guy and I will root for him in Tampa. I see an all-star season for him coming up.

Patrick Nolan

Avisail Garcia finds soft landing spot in Tampa Bay

Well not literally right, I mean it’s turf.


The betting on which day his first DL stint begins is now open.


I’ll set the over/under at Nate Jones first rehab start from whatever injury he comes up with this year.


Godspeed, Avi. I won’t miss you, even at that price.


I think it’s a great signing for Tampa. They need high-variance players who have the skills to explode for a year. That’s Avi. Sox needed more certainty in order to insure improvement from last year’s 100-loss team. That’s Jay. I think Avi will have a big year.


I don’t know that I would call Avi a “high-variance” player. He has basically just flatlined with one outlier season.


He has the tools to have an outstanding year, particularly if he can tap into his pull-side power. We know he can suck. That a big range of potential outcomes.


Good power turn-arounds for Rays signings. Is there something in the water down there?


or something in the coaching that is not up here.

karkovice squad

What do their coaches drink and where can we get some for the Sox?

karkovice squad

The injuries make Garcia a hard case for figuring out how responsible the Sox are for his underperformance. Similar to Jared Mitchell not being a good example.

But the thing about change of scenery candidates is that even if he turns in a peak Logan Morrison performance–or worse, Carlos Pena–it was unlikely the Sox would’ve been the ones to benefit. They missed whatever shot they had.

On the other hand, even without Avi, we have enough other examples to say that the Sox still have work to do.


I’ve wondered if Avi could really be considered an “underperformer.”

He never really lit up prospect evaluations. Many publications didn’t ever list him as a Top 100 prospect. White Sox fans had high hopes of him being the next Miguel Cabrera, but that is more an indictment on our hopes than his performance. 

At the end of it all, he put up 5.3 WAR over his final 4 seasons with the Sox. For a kind of middle of the road prospect, I’m not sure that is an underperformance. I think I would take that right now from Blake Rutherford, anyway. 

karkovice squad

He was supposed to have 5 tools average or better. He turned them into skills and production in only 1 season, otherwise being replacement level. What else do you want to call that?


Probably above average for a prospect of his pedigree? I don’t have the numbers to confirm, but I’d guess that if you took prospects from the 80-120 range (which is generous to Avi, given he never showed on MLB’s or BP’s Top 100) Avi would be above average in that group.

karkovice squad

Scouting grades like the 20-80 scale aren’t done that way, they’re compared to the whole not a subset. He was graded as having 5 tools equivalent to 50 or better.

Tools are potential, though. He was downgraded for being raw, not having converted tools to skills. So, outside 1 outlier year, he hasn’t lived up to his talent. He’s underperformed.


Sure, but my point was that, relative to his peers, he’s been above average. Perhaps we’re just defining our terms differently. 

I consider “underperformance” to mean: performance at a level beneath an expectation. If the expectation was that prospect Avi would perform better than he has, then our expectations for prospects are probably too high (since the majority of prospects like Avi don’t).

You seem to be talking about potential ceiling. If underperformance means failure to reach one’s potential ceiling, then probably 80-90% of prospects would be underperformers. 

karkovice squad

Sickels had him around 120. His rankings are weird because of how he went from nowhere in ’11 A ball to an underwhelming September call-up in ’12, and was back in the majors in ’13 without getting a full season at AAA.

The Sox acquired him and exhausted his rookie eligibility before top 100 lists would’ve really captured the helium.

They didn’t give up Peavy and let the Tigers solve SS without expecting they were getting a major league starter.


Sure, that’s why I lumped him in with other Top 100s. Regardless, I don’t think he ever had Top 50 pedigree or expectation. My point is not that Avi’s Sox career is a success, but he outperformed most of the prospect peers. 

Accordingly, Sox fans frustration over Avi should be directed either at themselves for too high expectations or the Front Office for getting Avi and calling it a rebuild. The fault here isn’t really with Avi or player development, in my mind.


Yeesh, if the Sox roll Rutherford out there full-time for four seasons of similarly mediocre production, then something went very wrong with our glut of outfield prospects.


That’s for sure! Might make a decent 4th outfielder, though.

Trooper Galactus

Rutherford probably can’t cover center field well enough to be a good 4th option, though I don’t know if the book has closed on that yet. He’s fringy as it is and I think people assume that if he adds the power he was projected to he will lose a step and be limited to a corner (probably left field).

As Cirensica

Rays trying to find out if Avi can “hit me babip one more time

Bad joke

If you don’t get it then you never listened to Britney Spears which is a good thing.

karkovice squad

Better than his agent’s R&B plea, “Have Mercy BABIP…from reaping all my sorrow/take me back where I belong.”


Not sure if Stoney is throwing more shade at Lucas or Coop here


Josh Nelson


karkovice squad

Coop got the shade. He straight up mauled Giolito.


Giolito came pre-mauled per some folks, then it seemed like they had him fixed and back to his old prospecty self late 2017, spring training last year… and then kaput.

karkovice squad

To clarify: Stone’s comments mauled Giolito, rather than shading him.


I wonder where Stone got that Ted Williams tidbit.


Thanks. I would have bet that it was from a Hawk anecdote.


For anybody interested in reading this book, there is a pdf copy somewhere online. I don’t know how to link to it, but I do know I have a copy I found somewhere.

#3 for HOF

After reading the article Mark Buehrle’s name keeps popping up in my head.