2018 contained all of the vast, infuriating multitudes which combine to form Avisail Garcia. After a breakout 2017 campaign where Garcia mostly stayed healthy and actualized all of his weird profile — you know, where he looks like a classic middle of the order hitter but instead is driven by contact, hitting to opposite field, and beating out a ton of infield hits — and finished second for the batting title, appeared in the All Star Game, and hit .330/.380/.506 with 18 home runs. With 2018 and 2019 representing his last two years under team control for the White Sox, the hope was they’d have another full season of playing time to give him this year to learn whether 2017 was the real Avisail, if it was a fluke, or frankly if there was even more in the tank given his phenomenal physical gifts.
Instead he was bad, got hurt, was bad, got hurt, and also set a career high in home runs in only 385 PAs. The power propped up his overall line of .236/.281/.438, and is consistent with the maddening tease that is Avisail Garcia. After all, this is the most power he has ever shown in a game, essentially hitting at a 30+ home run pace, but of course, he couldn’t stay on the field and was fairly terrible otherwise. Even when he was on the field, he was still playing at less than 100 percent with a variety of knee and hamstring ailments visibly bothering him. Indeed, he would undergo right knee surgery as soon as the season finished.
The optimistic take here is that when fully healthy, he has now shown he can get to his power and use his contact skills, leaving one to dream on a .280/.350/.550, classic star corner outfielder season. That’s certainly possible. The pessimistic angle says the White Sox have had him for five years now and he’s been both healthy and good in all of one of those years. It seems crazy you may have given this guy 2,500 plate appearances, even helping to tank the tail end of your last contention cycle by leaving him with a full time job instead of upgrading, and you still might have no idea what you have. Since he flopped in 2018, his trade value is likely minimal, and you may genuinely be left to question whether you want to keep him instead of, say, Daniel Palka.
I’ve seen enough Avisail Garcia for one lifetime, but the same fear remains should you let him go, that he winds up with the Cardinals or Giants or Reds or Blue Jays, or any number of franchises who scoops up failed prospects and unlocks their potential. The safest prediction seems to be he will be tantalizing, occasionally good, and brittle in 2019 before hitting free agency and then posting three straight .300/.400/.500 seasons in St. Louis while the White Sox watch A.J. Pollock age horribly. On the other hand, the White Sox could extend him so he can keep playing 75-100 games a year with a 95 OPS+. Or maybe all of their hopes will be realized, and hey, 2017 did happen!
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