The White Sox Hone In On Their New Avisail
Avisail Garcia spent six seasons with the White Sox. They were mostly sub-par seasons, but they were marred by injury, and they always seemed a bit worse because the expectations were high for him. He just had so many tools, and damn it, once he put them together, and things clicked, he was going to be great.
I mean, how often did Hawk tell you that Avi was the true five-tool player?
Except it never really clicked. Avi had one great season with the White Sox, hitting .330/.380/.506 in 136 games in 2017, with an OPS+ of 138. It was the only time he finished the season with an OPS+ above 100 aside from the 2014 season. That year it was 105, but the catch was he only played in 46 games.
After another injury-laden 2018 season that saw his numbers dip below league average, Garcia was let go over the winter, and it felt like a relief to finally be rid of the experiment. Now Avi is in Tampa having a league average season, and the White Sox, well, it looks like they're missing Avisail Garcia.
How else can we explain the sudden interest in Texas' Nomar Mazara?
From Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News:
On Wednesday, after seeing reps from upcoming organizations such as San Diego and the Chicago White Sox watching [Mazara] for a third day, I included him as a very real trade prospect.
Troublesome as it is, it makes some sense. The Rangers are overloaded with left-handed-hitting corner outfielders. If they can tap into other deep systems -- and the Padres/White Sox qualify there -- to trade depth for depth, it makes a lot of sense. And while Mazara has kind of flattened out since a solid rookie season, he's still only 24 and will be enticing to a lot of teams.
Which seems kind of exciting, right? Mazara is the kind of player the Sox would be looking for seeing as how he's only 24 and under team control through 2022. The problem is Mazara might not be very good.
Like Avisail Garcia, he has a ton of talent and tools, but he hasn't lived up to them. Here is a comparison of Mazara's career numbers to this point with Avisail's through the 2017 season (roughly the same number of PA).
Now, it should be pointed out that while both Mazara and Garcia made their MLB debuts at 21, Mazara is only 24. Garcia was 26 at the same point in their careers due to Garcia missing so much time to injury, which no doubt stunted his development. Mazara has missed some time, but he's never played fewer than 128 games in a season and is on pace to play at least that many this season.
It should also be pointed out that neither is what you would consider a strong defender. In 3,331 innings in right field, Mazara has been worth -17 defensive runs saved. Garcia, in 4,742 innings in right, is at -21. Using Statcast's Outs Above Average, Mazara is at 0 this season, while Avi is actually at +5, placing him in the top 20. Of course, Ryan Cordell is tied for 5th at +8, and he probably just dove after a ball he had no chance catching as I typed this sentence, so who knows how reliable that metric truly is (though the names at the top do make plenty of sense).
Anyway, as for whether or not it makes sense that the White Sox are interested in Mazara, as always, it will depend on the cost. I would be more than happy taking a shot on him if he's cheap enough, because he is only 24, and if it doesn't work out, he's not that difficult to move on from if you didn't give up a lot for him.
But I doubt he's going to come cheap. The Rangers may be willing to move on, but they're not just going to dump him for the sake of dumping him.
Which, knowing this organization, means Mazara would get so many more chances than he deserves, and we'd essentially be trading for our new Avisail Garcia. Considering the glut of outfielders the Sox have thrown out there this season, I understand why that would be desirable, but I'm not sure I feel like going through all of this again.