As he sat on a stage Wednesday on the concourse at loanDepot park, his new home, Avisail Garcia wanted one thing to be known.
“I made the playoffs for three years and never got to the World Series,” Garcia said, reflecting on his time with the Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays. “I’m here to win and win a ring.”
It’s easy to hear it from those inside the Miami Marlins organization that the club is committed to taking the steps required to be playoff contenders.
It’s at least a little more convincing to hear it from someone Garcia, who has watched Miami’s rebuild from the outside and made the conscious decision to join the club as a free agent.
“We’re on the same page,” Garcia said.
The Marlins’ intentions are clear by the moves made during the last 48 hours. They signed Garcia to a four-year, $53 million deal (with a fifth-year option), extending ace Sandy Alcantara for five years (with a sixth-year option) and trading for Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings and All-Star infielder Joey Wendle.
And the Marlins also made this clear:
“We’re not done,” general manager Kim Ng said. “We’re going to keep improving this team.”
When they get those deals done is going to be tricky at this point. The league’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, with the expectation that the players will enter a lockout period barring until league owners and the MLB Players’ Association agree on a new deal.
The Marlins laid out a lot of the groundwork prior to the potential lockout, although they said the looming deadline didn’t make matters any more pressing.
“We’ve been operating as business as usual,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said. “So it’s not like this offseason is different and we said, ‘Well, let’s hurry up and try to do things.’ This is years in the making. We sit down and we evaluate just like now. And we’re not just looking at 2022 We’re looking at ‘23, ‘24, ‘25. We’re looking ahead in the future, so we would have been operating like this regardless. Now. Maybe there’s some some players that are thinking about you know, sign in early. I can’t answer that question.”
Garcia can answer that question. He wanted the comfort of having at least some sense of certainty during this time of unknown. That’s why he made sure to get a deal done before Thursday.
A look at the market also paints that picture. A slew of the league’s top free agents — pitcher Max Scherzer (Mets), shortstop Corey Seager (Rangers), middle infielder Marcus Semien (Rangers), pitcher Jon Gray (Rangers), outfielder Starling Marte (Mets), pitcher Robbie (Mariners), pitcher Kevin Gausman (Blue Jays) and relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias (Angels) among others — have also secured deals the past few days when traction for MLB free agency usually doesn’t start until the Winter Meetings, which are tentatively scheduled for next week but in all likelihood not happening if there’s a lockout.
“When a player knows already where he has to go or where he’s going to sign and if you can sign before [the lockout] happens, I think it’s big,” Garcia said. “It makes you feel comfortable. You’re not guessing. I know where I’m going. I’m going to be home.”
This and that
▪ Ng said the Marlins’ discussions for Alcantara’s contract extension began before the All-Star Break.
“Like fine wine,” Ng said, “these things take time.”
Ng, who just finished her first season with the Marlins, said she realized from the start of spring training it became apparent that “Sandy was that quintessential ace of the staff.”
“Our goal was to always have Sandy here as long as we possibly could,” Jeter said, “and this is where it fell.”
▪ Ng said the club hopes to add at least one more bat, preferably an outfielder, before the offseason ends. That could come via free agency or trade.
“We’re working both ends of that,” she said.