Report: Tampa Bay Rays to Sign Avisail Garcia

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Avisail Garcia #26 of the Chicago White Sox watches his two-run home run against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning on September 25, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly close to signing free agent outfielder Avisail Garcia. The contract is reported to be for one year and will guarantee Garcia $3.5 million, plus some potential bonuses.

Tampa Bay Rays to Sign Avisail Garcia

Garcia debuted for the Detroit Tigers when he was just 21-years-old in 2012, though he’s spent most of his career with the Chicago White Sox after being acquired in a trade on July 30, 2013. With a lifetime 101 wRC+, he has been almost exactly a league-average hitter in his career. In 638 games, he’s hit .271/.321/.420 with 76 home runs and 302 RBI.

Garcia enjoyed a career year in 2017 when he hit .330/.380/.506 with 18 home runs, 50 extra base hits, and 80 RBI in 136 games. That performance was good for a 136 wRC+, 4.2 fWAR, and an All-Star selection. However, his performance fell off significantly in 2018. Garcia slashed just .236/.281/.438, posting a 92 wRC+ over 385 plate appearances. He did hit a career-high 19 homers in just 93 games, though. Garcia’s 2017 line was propped up by a .392 batting average on balls in play. That proved to be unsustainable for him, as his BABIP dropped to .271 in 2018. His strikeout rate also climbed from 19.8% to 26.5%.

After his disappointing 2018, the White Sox opted to non-tender the 27-year-old native of Venezuela. Had they tendered him a contract, Chicago would have owed Garcia a raise from his $6.7 million salary in 2018 through arbitration. Instead, he’ll join the Rays for what looks to be a pretty big pay cut, though it sounds as though Garcia could make as much as $6 million this year with incentives.

Garcia may not play every day for the Rays, but he’ll likely get a lot of at bats against left-handed pitching, spelling either Ji-Man Choi at designated hitter or Austin Meadows in right field. Garcia owns a career line of .304/.358/457 against southpaws, so he could prove valuable to Tampa Bay in that role.

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