The White Sox maintain their insurance policy and re-sign Leury García
In news that has been buried under the pre-lockdown trading rush, the White Sox have brought back 30-year-old utility Leury García on a three-year contract for $ 16.5 million. Despite a season slash line of 0.267 / 0.335 / 0.376, he still managed 2.0 WAR in 126 games, a testament to his defensive prowess.
It was the bat that was the problem, as you can see in his 80 wRC + career, although his 98 wRC + in 2021 was a significant breakthrough. Lack of power is the biggest hole in García’s offense, or at least the clearest area for improvement. There’s some measurable horsepower, with a maximum output speed of 109.6mph that’s above the league average, but that’s largely offset by a 55% ground ball rate. It also lags behind those with a similar output speed in terms of barrel rate.
The gaps with the bat don’t matter so much with García, however, as he’s a utilitarian man through and through, and although many players end up playing a plethora of positions, he’s firmly in Chris level. Taylor. The two were the only two players to play at least 60 innings at six different positions in 2021 – the only two with at least 30, in fact.
While these seasons are incredible feats, they are only possible because everyone was getting hurt. In 2021 alone, the White Sox lost a lot of time against Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Adam Engel and Andrew Vaughn. García’s value will come mainly from just being available anytime for any position during the season, and the White Sox would likely be happy if he plays in fewer than 126 games.
What makes García special and keeps him in the Chicago fold is that while he has never had enough reps at any given position to grow taller, he is more than enough in every position he plays. There is no good way to slice up a few hundred innings of defensive measures for multiple positions, but there is no indication that he is deficient anywhere. Per Outs Above Average, his OAA -3 in all positions in 2021 is very much in line with Taylor and slightly better than Josh Rojas. García didn’t accumulate less than -2 OAA or -2 DRS at any of the six positions he played and was no worse than -0.5 UZR no matter where he was. His speed – he’s in the 84th percentile for sprint speed – translates best in the outfield, but he holds his everywhere nonetheless.
A year ago, it would be hard to conceive of the White Sox moving away from Nick Madrigal as their long-term fix in second place. This is no longer the case after last year’s Craig Kimbrel transaction (a swap that may not be more), but in García, Chicago has at least a backup plan for second (and third, and short, etc.). No competing team wants to deploy an 89 wRC + projected by Steamer per second every day, but it would probably be wrong to assume that the White Sox have six different save players with a projected 89 wRC +. And while it’s unlikely that they will have a big plan to modify García’s swing to pull him a little more power, it’s only reasonable that he could continue to have seasons like 2021 where a BABIP high leads to an average league production.
As of now, the only other second baseman in the Chicago roster besides García is Danny Mendick, so I can’t imagine the White Sox won’t do anything else there when the lockdown ends. out. And they should do it 100%, because García’s value, as stated, is in his versatility. For players like Taylor and Enrique Hernández, they’re helping not through a star-studded performance (although Taylor can certainly strike as such), but simply by not being as bad as any existing replacement in the organization. Are the White Sox sitting on a minor leaguer who can play average second base defense with an average to above average bat? Probably not, or at least they don’t think so. While they wait to develop or acquire this player, they have kept Leury García to serve as this guy – anywhere, anytime.