I have been advocating for the Tampa Bay Rays to make a move for a White Sox slugger this entire offseason…. Well, they did. But, instead of trading for Jose Abreu they have reportedly signed former All-Star Avisail Garcia to a 1 year deal.
Per Ken Rosenthal and Juan Toribio, the Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to terms with the former White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia. Jon Heyman announced that the deal is worth 3.5M and gives Garcia the ability to make roughly 6M due to incentives.
Since they parted ways with their slugging first baseman C.J. Cron, the Rays have been in the market for right-handed pop. They missed out on Paul Goldschmidt and Nelson Cruz, but are still in the mix to land J.T. Realmuto. Prior to today’s reported signing, the Rays have added Mike Zunino’s power and Yandy Diaz’s upside to the right side of the plate.
Now, with Avisail Garcia added to the mix, the Rays have seemingly covered the 30 homers hit by Cron last year. In fact, Zunino and Garcia combined to hit 39 bombs in 2018. If Yandy Diaz can get the ball of the ground and David Robertson can stay healthy, the Tampa Bay Rays have essentially addressed the lack of right-handed power and have further balanced out the 2019 lineup which at one point was left-handed heavy.
Lets take a look Garcia’s numbers over the past 2 seasons…
2017 (4.6 fWAR):136 G // .330 AVG // .380 OBP // .506 SLG //18 HR // 80 RBI // 138 OPS+
- 2017 All-Star
2018 (0 fWAR): 93 G // .236 AVG // .281 OBP // .438 SLG // 19 HR // 49 RBI // 96 OPS+
Career (4.2 fWAR): .271 AVG // .321 OBP // .420 SLG // 76 HR
Only a year removed form an outstanding year at the plate, Avisail Garcia has had an interesting career. He broke in with the Tigers in 2012 and was traded to the White Sox the following year. He would finally begin to get regular playing time in 2015.
With playing time came power, since 2015 he has hit 62 bombs with 37 of those coming in the past two seasons.
Throughout 2018, Garcia dealt with a lingering hamstring injury which limited him to only 93 games. Had he remained healthy, he would have surely exceeded the 20 homer mark for the first time in his career. His average did drop though along with a spike in his strikeout percentage. If he can cut down on the strikeouts and stay healthy, we could see a return to his 2017 form.
Although it isn’t the flashy singing we had hoped for in Nelson Cruz, I like bringing Garcia aboard. They may not even be done adding bats from the south side of Chicago as they have been rumored to be interested in Matt Davidson.
The addition of Avisail does raise some questions though as the offseason moves along. What will this mean for Guillermo Heredia who was likely to enter 2019 as the fourth outfielder? Will Garcia be the final bat the Rays add?
The Rays will have some interesting decisions to make in the coming days as they will need to fit Garcia into a crowded lineup. I wouldn’t be too confident in Heredia’s chances to make the opening day roster at this point. Unless the Rays move an infielder (ie: Duffy, Robertson, B. Lowe), I think Heredia is the odd man out. Choi and Diaz will work at first with Choi getting some DH at-bats as well, Duffy and Robertson will work at third, and Adames, Wendle, and Lowe will work up the middle.
Garcia will get a majority of his playing time as a DH while also having the ability to play the corner outfield positions. The Rays could also put Robertson, Wendle or Lowe in the outfield if they needed to. The Rays really don’t need Heredia after the addition of Garcia.
This signing doesn’t mean that the Rays are done adding bats, but I do think that it lessens the chance that they do so. They could still trade for Realmuto or sign Matt Davidson. Realmuto seems like the more likely of the two at this point since the addition of Davidson would require the subtraction of a current infielder.
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All in all, I like the deal. They get Avisail Garcia at a low price and will cross their fingers that he returns to his 2017 form. The Rays get the right-handed hitter they have been looking for, even if it isn’t Nelson Cruz or Paul Goldschmidt. Welcome to the Rays Avisail Garcia!