Time to spend Bruce Sherman’s and Derek Jeter’s money! Entering the third year under new Marlins ownership, fans expect to see significant improvement at the major league level. Some of that improvement will surely come from within, but prospects—as they say—will break your heart. Successful MLB rebuilds make sure to surround their young cores with veterans who can bring credibility and reliable production. Free agent additions figure to be critically important to keeping the Fish on track.
To date, the largest investment that the Sherman/Jeter Marlins have made in any free agent was $5.25 million for Cuban outfielder Víctor Víctor Mesa. “Deep Sea Fishing” is a series of profiles on established, available players—all of them projected to cost more than Víctor Víctor—who should be seriously considered by the front office.
2019 team(s): Rays
2019 salary: $3.5 million
2020 season age: 29
Why the Marlins should want him
The team’s 2019 home run leader, Starlin Castro, is doubtful to re-sign, leaving an already-thin Marlins lineup completely devoid of productive, veteran bats. In an ideal defensive alignment, Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper are best suited to third base and first base, respectively. Both suffered (relatively minor) injuries as emergency right fielders last season.
García could address each of those concerns simultaneously.
The 6-foot-4 Venezuelan was Tampa Bay’s primary right fielder, slashing .282/.332/.464 with a 112 wRC+, generating 1.8 fWAR in 530 plate appearances. He set a new career high with 20 homers, dispersing them to all fields.
García won’t turn 29 until next June, making him one of the youngest MLB free agents in the 2019-20 class. Think of it this way: he’s younger than Cooper is! His Statcast metrics like Sprint Speed (28.8 ft/sec) and peak exit velocity (116.2 mph) demonstrate outstanding athleticism that should hold steady for at least the next couple years.
We saw García’s All-Star ceiling with the White Sox in 2017 when he was a four-win player—that is greater high-reward potential than most of the other targets covered in this article series thus far.
Avi is extremely aggressive swinging at the first pitch of a plate appearance (45.4% rate last season). New Marlins bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson is a big proponent of doing that, too.
In predicting the Marlins as his destination, the staff at MLB Trade Rumors approximated a two-year, $12 million contract. At that length of commitment, they would maintain full financial flexibility heading into the franchise’s projected “window of contention.” And yet, it allows for 2021 trade possibilities should prospects Jesús Sánchez and Monte Harrison thrive immediately in The Show and make García expendable.
Why the Marlins might not get him
In five of his six full major league seasons, García has been placed on the injured list (previously known as the disabled list) for some length of time. His previous physical issues include a torn labrum, sprained knee, sprained thumb and strained hamstring. Hard to imagine him being too high up on the Marlins’ wish list considering that track record.
If García’s market does not materialize as hoped and he’s forced to settle for a contract with only one guaranteed year, he may lean toward teams that play in more offensive-friendly home ballparks. A hitter focused on maximizing his counting stats would rather go pretty much anywhere besides unnecessarily large Marlins Park.
On the flip side, García’s career earnings to date are not quite as robust as other major league veterans (about $17 million). In the event of an intense bidding war between teams, he will be prioritizing the total dollar amount above all else. Another disadvantage for the low-revenue Fish.
Fish Stripes estimates a 15% chance of the Marlins signing Avisaíl García this offseason.
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