A. García intends 'to win a ring here in Miami'

December 1st, 2021

MIAMI -- A couple of weeks ago over breakfast with , Marlins CEO Derek Jeter made sure to look the veteran outfielder in the eyes. What did he see? A player buying into what the organization is building.

The Marlins on Wednesday morning announced the signing of García to a four-year deal, which includes a club option for a fifth year. A source told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman the contract is worth $53 million. This signing is the longest free-agent contract issued by the current ownership group, which took over before the 2018 season.

"He wanted to come here and be a part of what we were doing in Miami," Jeter said. "It makes us feel good, makes us feel as though we're taking steps in the right direction. We couldn't be more excited to have Avi as part of our organization."

García, who declined a one-year, $12 million mutual option with the Brewers for 2022 in order to test the free-agent market, is coming off one of his best seasons as a Major Leaguer. He hit .262/.330/.490 with a 117 adjusted OPS+ and a career-high 29 homers and 86 RBIs in 135 games. It was a marked turnaround from his ‘20 debut season with the Crew in which he batted .238 and slugged just .326.

When "Mini Miggy" is in peak form, as he was for much of 2021, he is an everyday outfielder with flashy tools. The Anaco, Venezuela, native reached a peak exit velocity of 116.7 mph (98th percentile in MLB), made hard contact on 46.4% of his balls in play (78th percentile), barreled 12.2% of those batted balls (80th percentile) and averaged a sprint speed of 28.7 feet per second (88th percentile). Defensive metric systems differed in their assessment of García in right field (-2 Outs Above Average, via Statcast; 8 defensive runs saved, via Baseball Info Solutions), though he possesses elite arm strength.

"Avi is a very good, multidimensional player," general manager Kim Ng said. "He can hit, hit for power, he can play defense, has a great arm. And those are all the things that really led us to him, one of the most impactful outfield bats on the free-agent market this year."

However, the 30-year-old's career has lacked consistency. This past season was only his third as a 2-win player or better, via Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR, and he has yet to string together two consecutive seasons with an OPS+ above league average. García’s lack of plate discipline is part of what makes him a boom-or-bust player; he recorded MLB’s fourth-highest swing rate (min. 1,000 pitches seen) by offering at 58% of the deliveries he saw, and also ranked in MLB’s fourth percentile in chase rate and sixth percentile in whiff-per-swing rate.

But this addition undoubtedly helps the club on two fronts: Miami's lineup, which ranked near the bottom of most offensive categories in 2021, gains a middle-of-the-order bat. García also has appeared in center field 90 times (75 starts) during a 10-year big league career, and he could man the position should the Marlins not acquire a center fielder before the winter ends. Throughout the press conference, principal owner Bruce Sherman, Jeter and Ng did state they were not done making moves.

"A day like today, this shows I think the Miami Marlins organization's commitment to Major League Baseball here and to a winning team and a winning attitude," Sherman said. "And we're just asking all the fans to continue to support us, come out. We're not done. We want to win, and with these kinds of gentlemen as pillars, we're going to have continued success."

Added García, who calls Miami his adopted home: "I'm the kind of guy who likes to play hard. I always do my best every single day and I prepare myself, I sacrifice a lot, and that's what they're looking for. They're looking for the right players. I think they look for the people who have discipline, who play hard, who care about winning, and I'm that kind of guy.

"I like to win, I like to compete, I like to do my best. I've made the postseason for three years, and we haven't made it to the World Series. What they're looking for, that's what I'm looking for: It's to win a ring here in Miami."