The Marlins were a 95-loss team in 2021, and one of the biggest reasons for that was that they got almost no production from the outfield, particularly after they dealt Starling Marte to the A’s in a deadline deal.
There’s still a lot of work to be done before they’re competing for the top spot in the National League East, but they did address the outfield before the work stoppage, signing one of the better -- and most underrated -- bats in Avisail Garcia. The Marlins signed Garcia to a four-year, $53 million contract that also includes a club option that can pay him $12 million in 2026 if Miami decides to pick up a club option last year.
The number of years might come as a bit of a surprise, especially for a player that will turn 31 this June. That being said, fantasy managers who had Garcia rostered in 2021 are aware that he’s capable of offensive fireworks. He finished last year with a .262/.330/.490 slash, and the .820 OPS that adds up to is the second best of his career thus far. He also added career highs in homers (29) RBI (86) and stole a respectable -- if unspectacular -- eight bags for good measure. That’s a massive improvement over his 2020 season when Garcia was only able to add two homers and posted an uninspiring .659 OPS in his first year with the Brew Crew.
While 2020 can be thrown out a bit for Garcia because it was only a sample of 53 games during the pandemic-shortened season, it does speak to the fact that he has not shown much consistency in his MLB career. Some of that has to do with the fact that he’s never played 150 games in a season and has just five seasons with 120-plus appearances, but in his 10 campaigns, he’s only finished with an OPS+ above 100 in five of those years. Much of this is due to injury or platoon roles, but also the fact that his patience at the plate leaves much to be desired, with 38 walks a career high for the right-handed hitter in 2021.
Those are the negatives, but there are certainly positives with Garcia, otherwise we wouldn’t be profiling him right now. Even if some of these metrics aren’t guaranteed to be repeated, they’re tough to ignore. He was in the 80th percentile or better of all qualified hitters in expected batting average, expected slugging percentage and barrel rate; all telling you how much the ball jumps off Garcia's bat when he makes contact. He’s also fleet of foot despite so-so stolen base totals throughout his career, and Miami may afford him the chance to run more; particularly as a player that appears to be locked into a regular role to begin the year. He should get a chance to hit in the middle of the order as well, with the chance to drive in players like Jazz Chisholm.
Fantasy managers are going to have to take a risk in order to acquire Garcia to begin 2022, as he’s likely to be a top 100 or so draft pick to begin the year. Because you will have to rely on a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and likely deal with some streakiness, that risk might not outweigh the reward. That being said, the reward is palpable, and if he’s able to play in 140-plus games -- or at that rate if we get a shortened season in 2022 -- managers could be rewarded with a 35-homer, 100-plus RBI season. At the very least, he’s someone that has to be considered, even if he’s just as likely to fluster as he is to flourish.
Quick Hits: According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the "reaction among players was not positive" to MLB's latest CBA proposal. … Jon Lester told ESPN's Jesse Rogers that he is retiring from baseball. … Ronald Acuña Jr. took on-field batting practice Wednesday for the first time since his July knee surgery. … Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are altering the dimensions at Camden Yards to "try to reduce the stadium’s propensity for home runs”. … Twins signed RHP Dereck Rodriguez to a minor league contract. … Travis Snider announced his retirement from baseball … Jose Miguel Fernandez has agreed to terms on a one-year contract to re-sign with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization.