By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The long-term fate of outfielder Avisail Garcia with the White Sox is yet to be determined. The 26-year-old Garcia has had a breakout season that has included an All-Star Game appearance and new acclaim.
This recognition had other teams asking about his availability before the non-waiver trade deadline passed. A trip to the disabled list the put the kibosh on any possible trade taking place by Aug. 1 – not that the White Sox were clamoring to move Garcia anyway.
The team had put its faith in Garcia and knew he was going to receive a make-or-break opportunity this season to be the everyday right fielder. Garcia was mostly used as the designated hitter in 2016. It’s a role that has been difficult for past veterans like like Adam Dunn and Adam LaRoche, but Garcia did the job without complaining. He did seem uncomfortable, though, as a one-way player without a position in the field.
With expectations by both the organization and Garcia now in full motion for 2017, the question lingers as to how he fits in the organization’s rebuild.
“Right field today,” was general manager’s Rick Hahn’s tongue-and-cheek response to the question of how Garcia fits in the plan. “It is good to have him back healthy. He is obviously having a very fine year. He is young enough to reasonably project him to be on this club going forward.”
“At the same time, you are dealing with a player who only has two years of (team) control left. You must make a determination what the cost of control will look like when we are likely competing for an extended period of time versus some alternatives. I don’t think any determination has been made about any individual player right now.”
Garcia can be the driving force of the offense for the near future or he could bring a nice chip or two back at the trading deadline of 2018.
Garcia prefers to stay with the White Sox.
“I want to stay here my whole career,” he said. “I have been here a long time. I play the game hard every day. I hustle every day, so I think this is good for young guys to see that.”
When he was leading the Cubs in 2014, White Sox manager Rick Renteria was charged with developing Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo after both had slumped in 2013. He did that well, and the end result was a rebound and leadership roles for both after one year of Renteria at the helm.
Does he see the leadership ability in Garcia as well?
“Avi is still developing as a player and he has a voice in the clubhouse,” Renteria said. “He has chimed in when we have had conversations with the players. He is growing in those roles. It is something with time and experience, they start to garner respect from their teammates. After that, you feel more comfortable expressing yourself.”
Garcia had been leading the American League in batting average for a time prior to the All-Star break. A three-week slump beginning in mid-June dropped his numbers, but he entered play Wednesday with a .304/.348/.487 slash line.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.