Leury Garcia stinks right now. You don’t need to tell any fan this with a set of working eyeballs. They are well aware. This is a fact that isn’t lost on Garcia either.
“My body feels good. I feel good at the plate.” Garcia told reporters. “I feel good with everything I’ve been doing. I just stink right now.”
Garcia has, in fact, been horrendous at the plate. Entering Wednesday night’s game, Garcia is batting just .197 with 12 RBIs and a .483 OPS. His defense has also left a lot to be desired. He has already committed five errors, with at least one error at three different positions.
Seeing Garcia’s name penciled in the lineup has been a hot topic among White Sox fans. Many have called for him to be released. However, Garcia is not going anywhere for multiple reasons.
Lack Of Depth
While seeing him in the lineup daily is frustrating, Tony La Russa does not have many options. Five of the White Sox’s nine everyday starters are under specific instructions from the training staff to not run hard on routine balls in play. Garcia is one of the few healthy White Sox who can give a total effort.
Garcia is also considered a super-utility player for a team riddled with injuries. While it is true he does not excel at any of these positions, it is hard to master a position when you have to practice six simultaneously. The White Sox have two first basemen playing corner outfield positions. It’s not like they have a ton of great options.
Historically he has not been as bad as he has this season either. In 2021 he appeared in 36 games (33 starts) at second base, 34 in right field, 26 in center field, 26 in left field, 19 at shortstop, 11 at third base, and 11 at third base. He committed just six errors in 294 total chances across the six different positions.
Garcia is an asset on the bench for a team with a weak farm system and brutal injury history. Should he be playing every day for a contending team? No. But it’s not Leury’s fault that the team can not stay healthy, and he is forced into an everyday role.
Overpaid On Contract
Garcia is the longest-tenured member of the White Sox. When you are able to stick in a clubhouse that long, it means that people like having you around. By all accounts, Garcia is a great teammate and a positive clubhouse presence. He shows up to work every day with a smile on his face. Last season Lance Lynn revealed that Garcia’s nick-named in the locker room is “The Legend.”
After putting on a White Sox uniform for eight years, Rick Hahn rewarded The Legend with a three-year, $16.5 million deal on December 1st. The White Sox have already eaten money after DFAing Dallas Keuchel. Rick Hahn will unlikely want to eat more money from another bad contract. Especially considering that Garcia was the most expensive position player Hahn signed this offseason, a fact that is extremely sad but true.
Not Being Used Correctly
If the White Sox are healthy and Garcia is being used the way he is supposed to be off the bench, then he can be an effective player.
On top of his versatility and positive clubhouse presence, Garcia has the abilty to get hot. The White Sox held onto Josh Harrison despite his struggles and are now reaping the benefits from his recent hot stretch.
From August 24th to the end of the season, Garcia slashed .339/.380/.483 in 32 games. His .339 average ranked fifth in the American League during that stretch. Since 2017 he has batted .270 or higher four times. Last year he hit a respectable .267. Historically he is better than his .197 average shows.
It does not help that he is used as a lead-off hitter or batting cleanup. It is also not his fault that Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Adam Engel, and Danny Mendick have been injured, resulting in more starts. Garcia should be coming off the bench with the occasional spot start on get-away days.
It’s clear that Tony La Russa isn’t getting fired. The fact remains that La Russa likes Leury. Leury has a good track record with the White Sox, and unfortunate circumstances have compounded his struggles.