The White Sox could have settled for nothing in return when they traded Alex Rios to the Rangers in an Aug. 9 waiver deal.
Needing to open a spot in right field for newcomer Avisail Garcia, the Sox were thrilled to be able to move Rios to Texas, and the Rangers were willing to assume his entire salary ($17 million through next season).
But White Sox manager Rick Hahn did some negotiating with Texas counterpart Jon Daniels, and he wound up picking up $1 million of Rios' contract while getting the versatile Leury Garcia from the Rangers.
While his offensive skills are suspect at best, Garcia is a standout defensive player at second base, short and third base. As an added bonus he plays center field. The 5-foot-7, 160-pounder also stole 158 bases in 483 minor league games.
"You are dealing with a 22-year old kid who has been blessed with plus tools in speed and defense," Hahn said. "He's making some adjustments, cutting down the length of his swing, becoming more consistent with keeping ball out of air and on the ground and line drives, which is common for a young kid. If he makes those adjustments, we could very well have quality middle infielder."
Since they are well out of playoff contention, the White Sox have plenty of time to look at Garcia the rest of the season.
Garcia, who was called up from Class AAA Charlotte late last week, made his first start for the Sox on Tuesday night against the Astros. He was 0-for-3, grounding out to second base in the third inning, striking out in the fifth and lining out to center field in the seventh.
"He's not a power hitter," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "So you are just watching his approach and watching him take groundballs. I think that's something he looks very comfortable at. Again, at-bats, you want guys to be able to have enough at-bats to get into a rhythm doing things."
Ventura said Garcia is going to play shortstop Wednesday night against Houston. That will finally give Alexei Ramirez a needed break, considering he's started all 131 games at short.
Through a translator, Garcia said he was "very happy," and "ready" for his first start with the Sox.
He was asked to describe himself as a player.
"I play the little game," Garcia said. "I bunt the ball. I run. I put the play in play. That's my game."
Garcia showed his versatility Tuesday, playing the first eight innings at second base and moving over to third in the ninth. And he's athletic enough to handle center field, where he played for two innings Sunday against Texas.
"I feel good playing center field," Garcia said. "I've been working on it. It's like going from taking groundballs in (batting) practice and then going to the outfield to take flyballs."
Garcia is a lot like Eduardo Escobar, who was the White Sox' super utility man last season before being traded to the Twins in the Francisco Liriano deal. They are both switch-hitters that play solid defense and can run.
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