As rumors run rampart about the Chicago White Sox looking to potentially add another outfielder, most have assumed that such an acquisition would signal the end for right-fielder Avisail Garcia as an everyday player on the south side of Chicago.
But why is everyone so quick to give up on the 24 year-old outfielder after just a few seasons at the major league level? When the White Sox acquired Garcia in a trade with the rival Detroit Tigers in 2013, fans w
ere excited about the arrival of the Venezuelan native. Garcia came to the White Sox after playing in just 53 games for the Tigers, over parts of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. His numbers were mediocre with Detroit during his short tenure, as he hit for a .268 BA with two home runs and 13 RBI. Despite just average production in Detroit, Garcia was exciting to Sox fans. At 6’4″ and 240 pounds, and built like a stack of bricks it seemed like the potential would eventually match the physical specimen.
While Garcia has not lived up to the lofty expectations that he was rendered thus far in his short career, he definitely is not bad enough or hopeless enough for the Sox to waste a draft pick in an effort to attract the services of a Dexter Fowler for example. Signing Yoenis Cespedes, or Justin Upton, or even Alex Gordon and replacing him with any of those top tier outfielders would have made sense. The White Sox decided not to go in that direction, and now fans have been left with a dissatisfied taste in their mouths causing them to want to do just about anything to acquire another outfielder.
Garcia missed the majority of the 2014 season after being injured while landing awkwardly on a diving catch attempt in early April of 2014 against the Colorado Rockies. Before Garcia was lost until the final month of the 2014 season, he was having a solid first few weeks. He was hitting near the top of the order, and producing in that role. Even before 2014, in 2013 when the Sox acquired Garcia he hit .304 with five home runs, and 25 RBI over a span of 42 games for the White Sox after the trade. He came back in late 2014 and struggled at times, finishing with a .244 BA to go along with seven home runs and 29 RBI.
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Then came the 2015 season, probably the most disappointing season as a fan of the team in recent memory given the large expectations placed on the team after an uncharacteristically splashy offseason. Everyone on that team fell well short of any and all expectations with the exception of Jose Abreu, who had another 30+ HR/100+ RBI season at the plate. Garcia is no exception, but he was also not as bad as people have made him out to be in the recent weeks. For example, Garcia had 59 RBI over 601 plate appearances in 2015, while the MLB average RBI for players with 601 plate appearances was just 64, only five more that what Garcia produced. Garcia hit .257 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 17 doubles, and two triples, while accumulating a total of 142 hits in 148 games. His .257 BA was bested only by Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, and Melky Cabrera in 2015.
Garcia needs to cut down on the swing and misses, and better his pitch selection at the plate moving forward if he wants to have more success offensively. Defensively, Garcia led the American League in 2015 with 17 outfield assists, and double plays turned with four. As well his .988 FLD% was good for third in the American League among all right-fielders, and his range factor per game of 1.94 was good enough for fourth in that category as well.
I understand that most White Sox fans are feeling scorned over the build-up and let down that was the month long saga regarding the pursuit of a top-tier free agent outfielder. I also understand that most Sox fans feel that the White Sox need to add another bat to the lineup to feel comfortable about competing in 2016. But replacing Garcia in right field is not the only way to accomplish that. With that being made clear, White Sox fans need to understand that wasting a first round draft pick to bring in a player like Dexter Fowler or even another player of the same caliber, just to replace Avisail Garcia in right field is not the solution.