By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (670 The Score) — Soon enough, the White Sox will have what could be considered a pleasant problem to have.
As Avisail Garcia is coming off his first All-Star season and set to be the right field regular again, Chicago also has highly touted 21-year-old prospect Eloy Jimenez waiting in the wings to fill the same position.
Many are projecting Jimenez to reach the big leagues by August. The question is what that will mean for Garcia? He could move to designated hitter, left field or possibly another club via the trade market.
Garcia, 26, will make $6.7 million in 2018 after recently winning his arbitration case, and he’s under club control through 2019. The White Sox were proud of his efforts and progress in 2018, and that’s why he’s set to be in the Opening Day lineup.
Garcia has been praised for his work ethic and detailed attention to his diet and conditioning in his turnaround 2017. Other MLB teams are watching with the hope that he’ll be available during the season. In 2017, the White Sox weren’t blown away by offers for Garcia, so they kept him, but they’re certainly willing to listen again.
Garcia doesn’t know what his future holds. He just know he’s focused on another productive year.
“I am excited about this team,” Garcia said. “We have a lot of talent. We have some really good young guys now. We will see what we can do. Hopefully, we all stay healthy.”
Garcia had 18 homers, 80 RBIs and an .885 OPS in 2017. Still, the team and Garcia himself would like to see more of an uptick in his power numbers. Garcia has some quality power but is often a line-drive hitter. The risk in changing the lift plane on his swing is that it could deter from what led to his success in 2017.
“I want to get better and improve,” Garcia said. “Nothing has changed from my routines and workouts. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and do the best to help my team win. I want to put up better numbers. You have to push yourself. You have to put some goals in your mind, so you can reach it.”
Garcia is quick to point out manager Rick Renteria’s presence, expectations and leadership was a big reason for Garcia’s All-Star campaign. Renteria pushed Garcia to become more self-disciplined.
“I am ready to go,” Garcia said. “I lost seven more pounds. I played at 258 last year. Now I weigh 251. Before the end of the year, I hope to be at 246. I think when people lose weight, they do everything better.”
The question is where Garcia will eventually utilize those skills. He’s not focused on the rumor mill.
“I have no control over that,” Garcia said in late January when asked about trade rumors during the offseason. “I can only control how I work and prepare to play.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.