Did Miami Marlins make right move with Avisail Garcia deal?

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: Avisail Garcia #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers at bat against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on May 08, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: Avisail Garcia #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers at bat against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on May 08, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With Major League Baseball at a standstill, some of those signings before the lockout have faced plenty of scrutiny. Did the Miami Marlins make the right move by signing Avisail Garcia?

No, the Miami Marlins did not make the biggest signing of the MLB offseason. But is that fair grounds for criticism?

Because that is just what Miami has faced, per this recent article by fellow FanSided colleague Robert Murray. Now, if this criticism was over a complete lack of activity, that would be one thing. However, the issue is not that the Miami Marlins have once more refused to spend any money, but rather that the money was spent poorly. Specifically the money allocated for their biggest offensive upgrade to date, Avisail Garcia.

Murray cites that multiple MLB executives labeled it the worst signing of the offseason, and personally adds that signing just Garcia would amount to a disappointing showing by the Miami Marlins front office. However, I’d contend that that’s an extremely myopic take on the part of those executives. As for that second point, no argument here. An offseason comprised solely of adding Garcia to the roster would be a letdown, particularly as things are (as Murray also notes) supposed to be different going forward in Little Havana.

The thing is, even if the season started tomorrow, the Marlins would still be miles away from having had a Garcia-only offseason.

Best player on the team? Extended to a long-term deal, even buying out two years of arbitration in the process. Biggest hole on the roster? Plugged via trade, with one of the better options in the league, and without overpaying. Depth issues? Traded for an All-Star super utility bat. Any one of these would, unfortunately, be worth labeling as rather unMarlinslike conduct based on their track record. Taken all together, it’s a sea change for the Fish — and that’s not even counting the money they splashed down on the table to land Garcia.

Which brings us back to that official objection, that the Garcia signing might have been the worst deal of the offseason. An objection that, I suppose, is technically true. Avisail Garcia is not as good at the whole baseball thing as say, Corey Seager. Or Marcus Semien. Or Javier Baez. Or any of the Cy Young-caliber pitchers that landed new contracts before MLB ground to a halt. So, by that measure, yes, Miami could have done better.

As noted above though, that’s myopic. And honestly, it’s the kind of thinking that should clue fans in as to why the MLBPA is so angry over how free agency has been handled the past five years. Avisail Garcia is not Carlos Correa, and probably isn’t even Nick Castellanos. But what he is … is a dramatic improvement over just about every other hitter on the current Marlins roster. Only one Marlin that had enough plate appearances to qualify had a better batting average; none had a better OBP. Only two Marlins that were on the 2021 roster at all had a better average exit velocity, and only one of them is still with the organization. Pick an offensive category and Garcia would rank first or second in all of them when it comes to the 2021 Miami leaderboard.

All that being said, there are two caveats that somewhat justify a little Garcia signing derision. For one, the evidence does indicate the Marlins could have extended Starling Marte if they offered him the contract they ultimately did present this past November back when they had the chance last July. Marte is three years older, but that’s still likely to go down as a mistake.

For another, if you take away the qualifying at-bats requirement, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Miami already has a better version of Avisail Garcia in the person of Garrett Cooper. Now, health is a skill, and it’s one that Garcia has been significantly better at than Cooper over the course of their careers. Yet health is arguably the only skill in which Garcia is noticeably superior, at least in terms of hitting.

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At the end of the day though, Garcia represents an instant, immediate upgrade over anything every hitter in a Marlins uniform has displayed on an MLB stage. That sounds a lot like something that is probably worth every penny of that $53 million to the Miami Marlins organization.