The Marlins aren’t the only team to misfire on long-term free agent signings. Maybe somebody else’s overpaid veteran would fit their roster better than García does?
The Marlins’ signing of Avisaíl García was not especially popular in the moment. The length of the deal was surprising: four years guaranteed for an inconsistent corner outfielder in his 30s? What an uncharacteristic investment for a franchise that operates with one of MLB’s lowest payrolls.
However, even the staunchest critics could not have foreseen such poor production on the front end of García’s $53 million contract. Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA generated a .234/.300/.365 slash line and 14 home runs as his first percentile, worst-case scenario for 2022 (assuming good health). It will require a late-season hot streak just for him to reach those marks.
García’s Marlins tenure started off on a sour note and that seemingly set the tone for his entire campaign. He assists opposing pitchers by constantly chasing outside the strike zone, then assists them even more by hitting balls directly into the ground. The former All-Star has been similarly ineffective against lefties and righties, whether at home or on the road. Regardless of the matchup or ballpark conditions, García can’t do damage against non-fastballs, and the baseball world is exploiting that.
Just look at this:
- Avísail García, 2022 season—.231/.264/.323, 68 wRC+, 7 HR, 27.9 K% in 333 PA
- Lewis Brinson, 2020-2021 seasons—.226/.264/.374, 74 wRC+, 12 HR, 25.4 K% in 402 PA
On the bright side, García has a long MLB track record of being better than this, he’s only 31 years old and even in the midst of these offensive struggles, he’s been an adequate fielder. He has demonstrated the ability to adjust after other disappointing seasons (like 2018 and 2020). He should improve over the remainder of his contract.
Although García’s contract is deep underwater, it is not immovable. Look around the league and you’ll find other veterans stuck in messier situations, replacement-level players who are locked into higher salaries.
I wonder if Nick Castellanos can hear these boos pic.twitter.com/7LKNfV3aDl
— Aram Leighton (@AramLeighton8) July 27, 2022
In the days leading up to the MLB trade deadline, I think the Marlins ought to consider selling low on Avisaíl García. He’s going to be an awkward fit with the Fish for the foreseeable future. We have established that Jesús Sánchez is not a center fielder. JJ Bleday is making a good first impression, but “they’d like to play him in left or right” long term, according to Craig Mish. Peyton Burdick and Jerar Encarnación are knocking on the door by mashing with Triple-A Jacksonville.
Are the Marlins going to impede their development in an attempt to validate the García signing?
García’s market value is negative, so trading him and the approximately $45 million still owed to him would bring undesirable assets back to Miami. But what if those assets were more complementary with the rest of the Marlins roster?
I will keep this super simple, proposing one-for-one trades that would send García elsewhere in exchange for another high-priced player. Comment to let me know which idea has the best chance of being accepted by both sides.
3B Mike Moustakas (Cincinnati Reds)
- Age 33
- Owed approx. $27.3 million through 2023 with 2024 club option
The former World Series champion is hitting almost as poorly as García in 2022 (.212/.300/.349, 80 wRC+ in 243 PA). The one thing you don’t have to worry about is his launch angle—Moustakas has posted groundball rates below the MLB average in every season of his career.
Moustakas’ contract is shorter than García’s, but it’s a steeper average annual value. His $20 million option for 2024 is certain to be declined.
“Moose” would immediately get significant playing time with the Marlins at third base and designated hitter. If he’s performing well when Brian Anderson and/or Jon Berti return from their respective injuries, that would be a nice problem to have.
1B Eric Hosmer (San Diego Padres)
- Age 32
- Owed approx. $45.7 million through 2025
The money lines up perfectly in Hosmer’s case. He is expendable to the Padres, according to multiple reports, having been included in trade negotiations throughout the past year. His 10-and-5 rights kick in next offseason; in the meantime, Hosmer has limited no-trade protection, allowing him to block deals to 10 teams. It’s unclear whether the Marlins are among those 10. Born and raised in South Florida, I imagine it would not be too hard to convince him to cooperate regardless.
The quality of Hosmer’s work at first base has deteriorated from Gold Glove quality to below average. On the other hand, he brings steady on-base skills (.339 OBP this season and a career .336 OBP). Maybe the Marlins don’t trust Lewin Díaz to translate his high-minors run production to The Show and want to flip him in a separate move while he still has some value?
This potential fit falls apart if San Diego pulls off the ultimate blockbuster and acquires Juan Soto. For now, the Padres have playing time to spare in the corner outfield spots and can utilize their top prospects as trade chips to address different needs.
RP Raisel Iglesias (Los Angeles Angels)
- Age 32
- Owed approx. $51.3 million through 2025
Hosmer’s willingness to play for the Marlins is merely assumed. Meanwhile, Iglesias publicly declared it a preference of his as a free agent last winter. The Fish understandably passed on the bidding war to seek more efficient options for the closer’s role, but went too far toward the cheap end of the spectrum and it came back to bite them anyway.
The Cuban right-hander entered Thursday night with a 4.24 earned run average, on pace to be the worst of his career. He has already surrendered a pair of walk-off home runs since coming to the Halos. However, his expected earned run average (3.30 xERA) and fielder independent pitching (3.15 FIP) are well-aligned with his historical norms.
The Angels have been very disappointing this season more so because of their offense than their pitching staff. Once highly touted outfield prospects Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh have had trouble adjusting to big league life, and as you may have heard, Mike Trout is sidelined with a back condition. What do they have to lose by taking a flier on Avisaíl García and trimming a few million bucks from their payroll in the process?
I see this as the most plausible of the three bad contract swap scenarios (which isn’t saying much, but still).