White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia was expected to miss the entire season when he suffered a torn left labrum in early April, but now it looks like he might be back in the lineup as soon as next week.
Garcia is currently on a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A, where he’s hit .368 in 10 games so far. General manager Rick Hahn called Garcia’s quicker-than-expected recovery “found money” and also told Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com:
His body has held up. He has made certain plays in the outfield the last few days that have forced him to let it go a little bit. There’s been no setbacks. We don’t have a magic number or magic performance level in mind that he has to hit, it’s more a matter of day in and day out seeing consistent performance and physically feeling strong. So far it has gone well and hopefully we’re coming to an end of it in several days or a week or so.
Before the injury Garcia hit .287 with a decent .734 OPS through 103 career games, which is plenty impressive considering he just turned 23 years old in June. If healthy the White Sox think he can be a long-term building block in a corner outfield spot after acquiring him last season from the Tigers in the trade for Jake Peavy.
Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.
After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.
With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.