Is Avisail Garcia part of White Sox’ rebuild? Hahn noncommittal

Avisail Garcia is enjoying a breakout season, representing the White Sox in the All-Star Game after several years of playing below lofty expectations, although the nice run had been interrupted by a slump and injury issues in recent weeks.

As the Sox transition into the next phase of their rebuild, it remains to be seen whether the 26-year-old right fielder will be part of it. He will be eligible for free agency in 2020.

“Where does Avi fit in?” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Right field today.”

That was hardly the lead-in to a ringing endorsement for Garcia, who returned from the disabled list with a double, single, RBI, two runs scored and a nice catch in the right field corner in the Sox’ 8-5 win over the first-place Houston Astros Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Avisail Garcia watches his RBI single off Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in Chicago. Tim Anderson scored on the play. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hahn, talking before the game, knows it’s too early and not necessary to make such a call on Garcia now. It makes sense to let the season play out and see where Garcia’s value is, either with the Sox or in a trade.

“He’s having a fine year and he’s young enough to reasonably project him having an important role on this club going forward,” Hahn said. “At the same time you’re dealing with a player who has only two years of control left so you have to make a determination what does the cost of control look like to control him through when we’re likely to be competitive over an extended period of time versus some alternatives.

“I don’t think a determination has been made about any individual player right now who is in his 26 years or that age range that Avi is in. It’s more a matter of giving them the space to perform and show they belong from an ability standpoint in that conversation of being part of that next group that is capable of winning a championship, then figuring out on the back end when they prove that contractually how do they make that work.”

The Sox have a promising crop of new outfielders in their farm system, including Eloy Jimenez, acquired in the trade for Jose Quintana with the Cubs; international free agent Luis Robert, signed for $26 million in May; and Blake Rutherford, who came from the Yankees in the deal for David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier. All are ranked among the top 30 prospects in baseball.

Garcia might be better used by the Sox in yet another deal down the road. But that is to be determined.

“It’s possible [he stays],” manager Rick Renteria said when asked if he viewed Garcia as a piece the Sox can build with. “I think anything is possible. I think he’s been, this year in particular, I think he’s shown a progress in his growth as a major league baseball player and I think that if he continues to do what he’s doing, I think there’s not a reason why that possibility doesn’t exist. Obviously, everybody is going to continue to look forward and see what’s coming down the pike, and continue to see his growth and then see how it fits.”
In Boston over the weekend, Garcia said he would like to stay. But he knows the business of baseball.
“I mean, yeah, why not?” he said. “I feel part of it. But you know this is baseball. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I want to stay here. I want my career here. So, if I can play 15 or 20 years or 10 years or five more years, it’s going to be great. Let’s see what happens.’’