CHICAGO -- When it comes to his two biggest assets, Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is in no hurry to make the decision everyone knows is coming at some point -- he will have to negotiate large contract extensions or trade them."It's not me
CHICAGO -- When it comes to his two biggest assets, Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is in no hurry to make the decision everyone knows is coming at some point -- he will have to negotiate large contract extensions or trade them.
"It's not me just dancing around or being cute," said Hahn at season's end. "There isn't a firm answer right now."
No, there isn't. Nor is there a firm timetable to get that answer. But the marketplace might be about to influence Hahn, especially regarding Garcia. He's likely to become an intriguing option for teams once they've finished kicking the tires on free agent J.D. Martinez.
Both Garcia and Abreu are arbitration-eligible with two years of control left for the White Sox. They could be long-term pieces with shelf life left in 2020 -- when the Sox expect to have one of the most promising teams in the American League -- or merely trade chips.
We're only in the first of four remaining windows for Garcia and Abreu and the other potential 2019-20 free agents. There's no rush to resolve the situation, but there is a cost for having them long term.
The White Sox will be a lot better next season with both of them in the middle of a young lineup, and that may mean a lower pick in the 2019 Draft. Look at what happened in September.
The Sox were 54-86 on Sept. 8, positioned to draft second overall behind the Phillies. They went 13-9 down the stretch, and now they'll draft fourth, with $1 million less allotted to sign amateur talent.
It's impossible to know what the cost will be in terms of talent, but we know that two wins was all that separated them from 2015 Draft target Andrew Benintendi. Then there was 2007, when a 15-12 September caused the White Sox to drop from second to eighth in the '08 Draft.
The White Sox selected James Beckham after missing out on Buster Posey, whom they coveted.
It's unlikely Abreu is going anywhere this offseason, even if the Red Sox miss out on Eric Hosmer and come calling or the Rockies seek Abreu for their first-base void. He's got value as a mentor to Yoan Moncada and a leader in the clubhouse as well as one of baseball's most consistent run producers. But this could turn out to be the time to deal Garcia.
Garcia is just 26, in the best shape of his career and coming off a breakout season. He hit .330 with 18 home runs and a manageable total of strikeouts (111), compiling an .885 OPS and a 4.5 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com. And Garcia is about to be pushed for his job by Eloy Jimenez, who is crushing Dominican Winter League pitching (.369/.432/.692) as a 20-year-old.
With Martinez demanding a high price on the free-agent market, Garcia could provide a nice option. He could upgrade the outfield for contenders while allowing teams to hold onto flexibility for next offseason's historic crop of free agents.
Considering the outfielders in this free-agent class, Garcia seems like a lesser gamble than other veteran outfielders who may be made available in trades, like Jason Heyward, Shin-Soo Choo and Stephen Piscotty.
Expect to hear Garcia's name mentioned more often as the offseason progresses and the market becomes less abstract.
Among the teams Garcia could fit:
They'd love to keep Martinez as protection for Paul Goldschmidt. But if he goes elsewhere, Arizona will be in the market for the best hitter it can find. The D-backs do owe Yasmany Tomas $46 million over the next three years, but restoring him to the lineup would not be a popular choice.
Their outfield picture is wide open, and they've had interest in Garcia in the past. San Francisco is looking for both production and solid play in the field. Garcia could check both those boxes, as he has a strong arm that would play well at AT&T Park.
The kids are coming, but the upcoming season is more about Josh Donaldson than Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette or even Anthony Alford. With the right-handed-hitting Teoscar Hernandez in one outfield corner, a left-handed bat might make more sense, but Garcia is a way to replace the production Toronto lost as departed free agent Jose Bautista aged.
With Manny Machado a year away from free agency, time is of the essence. The rotation is the major issue, but they're also a corner outfielder short, even with the emergence of Trey Mancini. Garcia would allow Mark Trumbo to serve as DH and eliminate the need to push 2016 third-round Draft pick Austin Hays from Double-A to Camden Yards.
Center field is a bigger question with Jarrod Dyson in free agency and Ben Gamel somewhat of a defensive liability in both corner outfield spots. The addition of a veteran would make Gamel a valuable depth piece. Garcia could balance out the middle of an order that includes the left-handed-hitting Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, and you know Jerry Dipoto loves to make trades.
There are internal options to replace Carlos Gonzalez, the easiest being shifting Gerardo Parra over to right field to open up left for Ian Desmond or David Dahl. But Parra's not going to get anybody excited. It would be fun to see what Garcia could do at Coors Field.
Jon Daniels would love to get back to the postseason in Adrian Beltre's farewell season. There's one open spot in the lineup with Mike Napoli back in the free-agent market. Garcia is a significant defensive upgrade over Choo and Nomar Mazara, and he would help lengthen a homer-dependent lineup.
One last note: The White Sox are positioned to take on some of the salary for a veteran like Choo ($62 million remaining for three years) or Tomas if it buys them the prospect capital they covet.
Something to watch in what most expect to be a quiet offseason for the South Siders.
Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com.