How the White Sox Handle the Avisail Garcia Injury
The Chicago White Sox lost starting right fielder Avisail Garcia to a season-ending labrum injury last week. In response, GM Rick Hahn recalled Jordan Danks and acquired Gorkys Hernandez from the Royals. Manager Robin Ventura followed with a lineup featuring Alejandro De Aza in left field and Dayan Viciedo in right field, subbing in Danks as a defensive replacement for the big Cuban late in the game. With the dust now settling on these moves, let’s take a look at what they mean going forward for the South Siders.
The Sox haven’t had the best luck in the draft lately, but they made some shrewd deals over the last year to add young, big-league-ready talent to the organization. Moving Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Addison Reed, and Hector Santiago netted the Sox Avisail Garcia, centerfielder Adam Eaton, third baseman Matt Davidson, and infielder Leury Garcia (a utility infielder with speed who has played some OF), as well as salary flexibility. With $68-million-dollar man Jose Abreu also onboard, the White Sox laid claim to a legitimate youth movement. All but Davidson broke camp with Chicago, though he should be joining the big-league team soon enough. The Sox have been competitive recently, but these transactions signaled 2014 as the start of rebuilding the Major League roster.
Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton were both were earmarked as starters immediately. Viciedo and De Aza formed a platoon in left, where the left-handed hitting De Aza would complement Viciedo, who punishes lefties. De Aza has started in left and Viciedo in right since the injury, which makes sense- though De Aza covers more ground, he arm strength is better suited for left. Danks was recalled following Garcia’s injury, but he shouldn’t be viewed as more than a defensive specialist. However, Rick Hahn’s plan is much clearer after promoting Danks and trading for Gorkys Hernandez.
Players like Danks and Hernandez provide more value to organizations than is immediately recognizable. Most teams stash tweeners, “Quad-A” players, in the minors to protect prospects. In case of further injuries or ineffectiveness, Chicago doesn’t have to promote players like Jared Mitchell or Trayce Thompson, both of whom are already on the 40-man roster. White Sox fans might see either player as an outfield option immediately, but leaving both of them at Double-A Birmingham gives them the minor league at-bats they need and keeps their service clocks from starting without good reason. Danks’ recall was expected, but the acquisition of Hernandez means White Sox fans should not expect to see either Mitchell or Thompson this year, a positive sign for the development of both players.
In the past, the White Sox mortgaged prospects to acquire missing pieces via trade. After years of filling holes, they’ve started to replenish their farm system with a number of interesting players like Courtney Hawkins, Tim Anderson, and Micah Johnson. They, along with Thompson, Mitchell, and infielder Marcus Semien, are pieces Chicago desperately needs to retain.
Take the case of Micah Johnson, one of their top 10 prospects. The speedster stole 84 bases in 2013, evoking comparisons to Billy Hamilton with more pop. He’s been a hard scout though, and some evaluators see him as a center fielder. The Sox are ironically deep in center field, so the idea of trading Johnson for a right fielder seems plausible on the surface.
Instead, they can promote Hernandez if needed and keep Johnson where he is, the Sox are better positioned to respond to a number of plausible scenarios. Staying with their rebuilding plans, Chicago can entertain trade inquiries on De Aza or Viciedo at the deadline from teams looking for outfield cover. If the Sox don’t extend Eaton and his arbitration numbers jump, they can move Eaton and slide Johnson into center field down the line. With Mitchell a level above him in Triple-A, Johnson can move at his own pace, too.
Losing Avisail Garcia Shows White Sox Commitment to the Future
The Sox will build around Garcia going forward, but he wasn’t projected to be significantly more productive than De Aza or Viciedo this year. The biggest issue is a lost year of development time for Garcia. Though White Sox fans might call for a bigger transaction, the Hernandez trade quietly shows their commitment to the future. By staying the course and showing restraint in the face of the loss of Avisail Garcia, the White Sox are saving themselves valuable assets and potentially millions of dollars.
15 Apr 2014 / Ben Flajole /
Categories: MLB Analysis
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