The Marlins have agreed to a four-year contract with free agent Avisail Garcia, The Miami Herald’s Craig Mish reports (via Twitter). Garcia will earn $53 million, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Garcia is represented by Mato Sports Management.
SportsGrid’s Craig Mish notes that this is the largest contract the Marlins have handed out under owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, who purchased the team more than four years ago. The Marlins are “far from done,” tweets Mish. Garcia joins Jesus Sanchez in the Marlins’ outfield, after Miami reportedly made a strong push to bring Starling Marte back before he signed with the Mets. The Marlins continue to sit on perhaps the game’s best starting pitching surplus, suggesting GM Kim Ng may solve some of the team’s other needs on the trade market.
MLBTR had predicted a three-year, $36 million contract for Garcia, who managed to snag an extra year and a better average annual value. Garcia’s contract is exactly double that of Mark Canha, who signed with the Mets two days ago at the same $13.25 million average annual value. Garcia, 31 in June, posted a fine 115 wRC+ in 135 games for the Brewers this year. Garcia’s two-year, $20 million contract with the Brewers included a provision that converted a $12 million club option into a mutual one once he reached a certain plate-appearance threshold in September. That allowed Garcia to become a free agent. Likely fearing acceptance, the budget-conscious Brewers elected not to make the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer.
Garcia has had an up-and-down career since signing with the Tigers for $200,000 as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela back in 2007. The tool-rich outfielder reached the majors as a 21-year-old in 2012 and was traded to the White Sox the following year as part of a three-team deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox and Jose Iglesias to Detroit. Garcia fell short of expectations in Chicago until a BABIP-driven 138 wRC+ in 2017. After a down 2018 season by Garcia that culminated in knee surgery, the White Sox chose not to tender him a contract with a projected $8 million arbitration salary looming.
The Rays swooped in with a one-year, $3.5 million free-agent contract for Garcia, who rode a 113 wRC+ in 2019 to the aforementioned two-year contract with Milwaukee. It’s fair to question why, two years later, Garcia is coming off a similar season and managed to secure $33 million more than last time.
The answer might lie in Statcast, where Garcia’s top of the charts numbers have always hinted at something more. This year, he ranked in the 73rd percentile for average exit velocity, 98th for maximum exit velocity, 78th for hard-hit percentage and 80th for barrel rate. Garcia simply hits the ball very hard, even if this year’s 29 home runs represented a career best. Garcia pairs his hard hitting with 88th percentile sprint speed, so his is a rare blend of athleticism. Defensively, Garcia has been a bit below average in Outs Above Average over the past few years.
We’ve seen a flurry of hot stove activity Sunday with three days remaining until the collective bargaining agreement expires, with Dec. 1 serving as a free agency deadline of sorts. Sunday alone, we’ve seen free-agent contracts for Marcus Semien, Corey Kluber and Garcia, as well as an extension for Byron Buxton. After the CBA expires, ownership is widely expected to lock out the players and freeze free agency, speculatively until the eve of spring training in February. This has created an unprecedented urgency from teams in free agency, resulting in many November contracts that have exceeded expectations.