Avisail Garcia’s season was both hamstrung and kneecapped

A knee in need of surgery explains the return to uneven play, but the power surge still makes him compelling

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.

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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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Otter

I’ve come around on keeping Avi around next year. Someone has to play right, especially early in the year. And Avi simply has more upside than Delmonico. Avi’s got the clear lead in xwOBA. Delmonico’s .232/.326/.416 with bad defense over nearly 500 plate appearances isn’t anything special. The only thing Delmonico has going for him is five years of control, but honestly it shouldn’t be too hard to find (or trading) for a player like Delmonico.

Avi’s probably not on the 2020 team. But neither is Delmonico.

Josh Nelson

The White Sox need an outfielder they can option in April (or June) to exchange with Eloy Jimenez. Does Delmonico have options left? If so, I could see him start with the team on Opening Day.

35Shields

He’s got three options left.

Josh Nelson

Thank you!

roke1960

That’s a good point. It will be comical to hear Hahn’s explanation of why Nicky makes the team over Eloy.

ParisSox

I’ve penciled in the approximatel dates for the press session into my diary.  

Otter

Tilson, Cordell, LaMarre…

Yolmer's gatorade

I hope they keep Avi. People underestimate how these human element things impact players. Think about Tim Anderson last year.

Also, he is in a contract year and will probably have a modest salary. If he keeps some of this new power and bumps his average up a little, he’ll be pretty valuable around the trade deadline.

roke1960

Avi’s power this year seems legit. If he can keep himself healthy, he is a very reasonably priced asset for 2019. I’m sure they’ll tender him. But then, I was sure Hahn was going to tender Flowers.

Trooper Galactus

Avi will probably cost around $8 million next year. I don’t know how reasonable that is for a guy that has failed to accumulate even 1 WAR in six of his seven seasons. If they couldn’t trade him in 2017 when he was raking, I don’t see how they get anything for him even if he repeats that performance given he now is in his last season of control, has even larger health concerns, and costs three times more.

lil jimmy

If 7.4 million is around 8 million then yes he is.
(glad you’re not my accountant.)

Trooper Galactus

His arbitration figure isn’t even remotely set in stone. I think he’ll get more than a $700,000 raise, even with the year he’s had.

lil jimmy

and I think you’re wrong. 10%. No more. Of course it’s not set in stone, it’s arbitration.

Yolmer's gatorade

The same way MiGo was traded in 2017. O.K. maybe revise down the value received back a bit. But if he is on track to hi 25-30 home runs and hit around .270, I bet he would moveable. I’d take the risk on that upside. Plus, it would be nice to have a couple of major league corner outfielders in Eloy and Avi.

35Shields

A poor man’s TiQuan Forbes is really stretching the definition of “anything” here

Trooper Galactus

When has Avi ever been on track to hit .270 with 25-30 home runs? That’s a fool’s bet.

Yolmer's gatorade

If he had played 150 games this year, he was on track to hit 31 dingers.

itaita

Im paranoid as hell about Avi leaving. Just feels like if the Sox let him go he will then put it all together and meet his expectations and sorta reverse Carlos Quentin us.

Sophist

White Sox had 5 outfielders with more than (arbitrary number of ) 250 at-bats, with two more over 100 and a third (Ryan LaMarre) approaching it. Even with Eloy up next year, I get the feeling that by July, if they didn’t have an Avi they’d have to invent one. So I’m all in for giving him another year.

Patrick Nolan

Hot damn, Delmonico really cratered.

I wrote this immediately after Delmonico peaked:
https://soxmachine.com/2018/08/24/making-sense-of-the-white-sox-defensively-limited-trio/

The piece ran on August 24 (the game day after he homered back-to-back games) and he immediately responded by going into the tank, going 0-4 with 3 strikeouts, and hitting .171/.224/.271 the rest of the way.

I am a curse!

35Shields

You should use your powers for good

Josh Nelson

*whispers* maybe he did…

Patrick Nolan

Certainly lit a fire under Palka’s ass.

Josh Nelson

For those going to tonight’s game, there has been a shooting outside the stadium on 35th and Wentworth.

PopeDonnPall

Avi is a unique kind of frustrating. This is his 6th season with the White Sox. Before his breakout ’17, his track record was underwhelming bat, shoddy D and injury prone. His D has advanced to playable but aside from that, I don’t believe any other question has been answered. He neither gave the Sox a reason to extend him nor gave other teams a reason to give up anything for him. He remains an enigma we cannot build around or shop around.

Trooper Galactus

If his knee and hamstring continue to be issues, I don’t know that the defense will be a reliable commodity either.

Trooper Galactus

Crazy idea: White Sox trade Avi and Abreu to the Rockies for Ian Desmond, Ryan McMahon, and Jordan Patterson. Yeah, they take on some salary for 2020-21 ($25 million total if you include the 2022 buyout), but they probably save about $10 million in 2019 and get two pretty decent prospects in return who can both be put into major league action right away. Also, best case scenario is Desmond regains some sort of value by being employed at positions other than first base and just becomes a highly paid super-sub like Leury.

Yeah, I’m probably just crazy.

lil jimmy

Probably?

Trooper Galactus

I don’t see Avi or Abreu being valuable pieces in 2020 and beyond, so I’m probably more willing to find some sort of value in trade for them while still ostensibly possible, even if it means taking on an underwater contract in return.