CHICAGO -- The debate over Avisail Garcia's White Sox future seemingly has been taking place since a year or two after the talented right fielder joined the organization from Detroit as part of a three-team trade on July 30, 2013.
That conversation could reach a final decision-making point by this Friday's deadline to tender contracts at 7 p.m. CT. Garcia is joined by first baseman Jose Abreu, infielder Yolmer Sanchez, infielder/outfielder Leury Garcia, designated hitter/infielder Matt Davidson and left-handed starter Carlos Rodon as the arbitration-eligible White Sox, but Garcia seems to be the lone player in real danger of being non-tendered.
Garcia hit .236 with a .719 OPS over 385 plate appearances and 93 games in '18, limited by a strained right hamstring and right knee pain Garcia talked about stemming back to Opening Day in Kansas City. He had arthroscopic surgery to clean up the knee issue after the season, and those who follow Garcia on Instagram can see he's going through intense workouts to get ready for a fully healthy return.
It was just two seasons ago when Garcia fulfilled his All-Star potential by finishing second to Houston's Jose Altuve in the American League with a .330 average and posting career highs with 80 RBIs, 27 doubles, 75 runs scored, 262 total baes and a 138 OPS+. This sort of high-level production is what executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn expected regularly when making Garcia one of the focal points in their first attempt at a modified rebuild.
Unfortunately for Garcia, that standout season has proven to be the exception rather than the rule during his parts of six years with the White Sox. Some people subjectively view Garcia as older than 27, partially because he had 25 postseason plate appearances for the Tigers at age 21 in 2012 after just 51 regular-season plate appearances. He has been around for a while, with 2,497 career plate appearances representing a substantial judgement size.
There's still room for growth for Garcia, who has become serviceable defensively in right field and flexed his power muscles last season with a career-best 19 home runs. So what direction do the White Sox choose?
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported that the White Sox are shopping Garcia, although there wasn't an abundance of outside interest back during his breakout '17 performance. Non-tendering Garcia would dictate a hypothetical December White Sox outfield in 2019 of Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel and Daniel Palka from left to right, with outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox top prospect per MLB Pipeline, very close to a '19 Major League arrival.
But a non-tender of Garcia might serve as a greater indication of the White Sox underlying confidence in adding an outfielder during the coming months. Garcia, much like Abreu, is under his last year of contractual control with the White Sox, but as Hahn pointed out, there's not a rush to make a long-term decision on these players.
Abreu seems more likely to be part of the contending White Sox plans than Garcia, especially with the White Sox teeming with young outfield talent; seven of their present top 15 prospects are outfielders. MLB Trade Rumors projects Garcia's salary to be $8 million in '19, a total they could take a chance on with Cot's Contracts currently projecting the White Sox at $54,425,000 for '19 with the arbitration-eligible players factored into the total.