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Chicago White Sox: Who are the other extension candidates?

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AVISAIL GARCIA – RF

Mar 17, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia against the Seattle Mariners at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is a very interesting discussion because there is inherent risk for both parties. For the White Sox, there is the risk that Garcia never develops into that five-tool superstar type player they believe him to be, and the risk for Garcia is potentially inking a deal that pays him far less than he’d deserve if he actually reaches that ceiling.

Once again, there is the whole duality of security versus accurate compensation. Garcia has shown flashes of his potential, notably when he hit .304 in 42 games with the White Sox in ’13, and when he showed considerable pop during last season.

Garcia has used this offseason to slim down in an attempt to regain some of his speed, which should make him more of a threat on the base paths and an asset defensively in right.

Had Garcia had a healthy ’14 season, I think he would have been locked up this offseason. Garcia is the key return of Hahn’s first impact move, and a player the organization wants to build the team around.

Garcia is just 23, meaning that as Jose Abreu begins to slide out of his prime, Garcia should be entering his. The White Sox likely want to capitalize on Garcia’s age 27-29 seasons.

The Venezuelan native isn’t arbitration eligible until ’16 at the earliest, and he won’t be a free agent until after the ’19 season. As it stands, the White Sox have control of Garcia through his age 28 season, but he could obviously still be productive into his early 30s.

If Garcia becomes a .280 hitter, with 25-plus home runs, plus defense and 10-15 SB, he’ll become extremely valuable. The type of valuable you don’t want to be in the hands of arbitration. Thus, Hahn and company likely want to engineer more concrete salaries for Garcia during his arb years.

Just look at Kyle Seager‘s recent extension with the Seattle Mariners. In December, Seattle inked Seager to a seven-year, $100 million contract. Here’s Seager’s stat line from his ’14 season:

.268/.334/.454 with 25 home runs, 27 doubles, 96 RBIs, and 7 SB

All the while, he played Gold Glove defense at third base. Granted, Seager had two full seasons before ’14 in which he posted over 20 home runs and a respectable average, but his ’14 production is the ceiling the White Sox envision for Garcia, if not even one a little higher.

Thus, it would pay great dividends for the White Sox to lock up Garcia at a cheaper rate before he reaches such a level. That’s why I believe Hahn is probably closely eying such a deal. The concern is that Garcia’s plate discipline issues and overall unproven stock adds a lot of risk in giving him a significant contract.

Christian Yelich’s recent contract is a good benchmark for Garcia

I think right-fielder Christian Yelich’s latest contract with the Marlins is a great benchmark to use when looking at Garcia.

He signed for seven-years, $49.57 million, with an eighth year in the form of a team option. Drew Silva made an interesting point about Yelich’s extension on Hardballtalk.com saying that it:

"“looks like a very-team friendly contract for a 23-year-old rising star like Yelich, but it’s the second-largest sum of guaranteed money ever handed out a player with less than two years of major league service time. Andrelton Simmons‘ seven-year, $58 million pact with the Braves is still the richest.”"

Even after ’15, Garcia will still only have one full season under his belt (assuming a clean bill of health this season) and as Silva notes, it is unorthodox for players to net these types of contracts without much of a track record. Then again, the White Sox did give $68 million to Abreu over six-years, despite the fact that the slugger had never seen a major league pitch.

Yelich posted a .284/.362/.402 line with nine home runs, 30 doubles and 21 steals, along with Gold Glove defense in right last season for the Fish.

Honestly, Yelich’s ’14 numbers seem like a reasonable projection for Garcia in ’15 if you take away some steals, and compensate by adding more in the form of Garcia’s power numbers.

I doubt Hahn will extend Garcia before he finishes the ’15 season, but if Garcia posts numbers similar or beyond Yelich’s ’14 production, he could be looking at a five-year contract that would take him through his first year of free agency and age 29 season at the price of $45-55 million, with two teams options buying out his second and third years of free agency at somewhat higher rates.

In my opinion this would be a solid contract for both sides, and I have little doubt that Hahn can work out such a deal with Garcia’s Octagon agency before the start of the ’16 season.

Next: White Sox: Looking Ahead

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