Avisail Garcia, Milwaukee’s talented and powerful right fielder, declined his half of a 2022 mutual option Thursday and immediately became a free agent. Visions of Garcia in a KC Royals uniform are probably dancing in the heads of Kansas City fans already.
Considering Garcia patrolling Kauffman Stadium’s right field, where a gaping hole now exists, is not without merit.
Garcia is, of course, a more than competent choice for the job. He homered 29 times, drove in 86 runs, and slashed .262/.330/.490 with a 117 OPS+ for the Brewers this season, and his career .980 fielding percentage, while not stellar, is acceptable. He’d be better than Hunter Dozier, whose well-chronicled 2021 struggles at the plate kept Kansas City searching for a suitable position to play him and his new $25 million contract. And at 30, Garcia isn’t over the hill, even after spending 10 seasons in the majors.
His power would be welcome, especially considering the departure of Jorge Soler, and his career .270 average reflects a reliable bat.
There are obstacles, however, to Garcia becoming a Royal.
Avisail Garcia’s free agency doesn’t mean he’s available to the KC Royals.
For now, Garcia is free to talk to all 30 major league clubs, but can only sign a deal with Milwaukee, although that changes at 5 p.m. ET Sunday when baseball’s free agent negotiation limitations end and he can agree to terms with any team.
Garcia could, of course, negotiate a new Brewer contract, one better than the $10.5 million he played for in 2021. Or, absent such a quick new arrangement, Milwaukee could give him a Qualifying Offer ($18.4 million for the 2022 season) by 5 p.m. ET Sunday; accepting a QO means he’d stay with the Brewers for another season, but rejecting it means he’ll still be a free agent and subject any other club signing him to loss of a draft choice as compensation for Milwaukee. If he gets a QO, he’ll have 10 days to decide what to do with it.
Should Garcia not re-up with the Brew Crew, the question for the Royals becomes whether he fits financially. His 2021 performance was, top to bottom, excellent: those 29 homers and 86 RBIs represent career highs, as did his 38 walks; his 121 hits and 18 doubles were the fourth best he’s had; and the 135 games he played were the third highest of his career.
Garcia should command good money and a moderately long contract—$50 million for four years isn’t out of the question, and presents an AAV even the financially conservative KC Royals can afford.
Whether new General Manager J.J. Picollo and President of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore will pursue Garcia depends on a handful of factors. Will Garcia stay with Milwaukee? If not, will he prefer to play for a contender like the Brewers, or will he be willing to take his chances with a team on the verge of winning again, like the Royals? And will he be too expensive for KC principal owner John Sherman to sign off on?
Time will tell. But if Garcia turns away from Milwaukee, the Royals should give his agent a call.
Avisail Garcia could be a right field answer for the Royals if he doesn’t return to the Brewers.