ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Tampa Bay Rays Communications) — The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract with free agent outfielder Avisaíl García (ah-vee-sigh-EEL). He has a chance to earn an additional $2.5 million in incentives. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake was designated for assignment.
García, 27, hit a career-high 19 home runs last season for the Chicago White Sox despite being limited to 93 games due to two stints on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. He missed nearly two months for his first stint on the disabled list, April 24–June 21, then was reinstated and appeared in 17 games before his second stint, July 9-20. He hit .236/.281/.438 (84-for-356) overall, .279/.333/.477 (24-for-86) against left-handed pitching and hit nine home runs in a 14-game span from June 26–July 21. He also recorded a multi-homer game on August 5 at Tropicana Field.
In 2017, García enjoyed a breakout season, batting .330/.380/.506 (171-for-518) with 18 home runs and 80 RBI. He was selected via the player vote to his first career All-Star Team, becoming the first White Sox outfielder to make the All-Star roster since Carlos Quentin in 2011. His .330 avg. ranked second in the American League behind Houston’s José Altuve (.346), and his .424 avg. against left-handed pitching led the majors. He also ranked among AL leaders in on-base pct. (.380, sixth), multi-hit games (52, tied for sixth) and hits (171, 10th). He was named the White Sox recipient of the Heart and Hustle Award by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA), which honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody its values, spirit and traditions.
García was signed by the Detroit Tigers as an international free agent in July 2007. Over parts of seven seasons in the majors with the Tigers (2012-13) and White Sox (2013-18), he has hit .271/.321/.420 (624-for-2,303) with 88 doubles, 76 home runs and 302 RBI. He is a career .304/.358/.457 (179-for-588) hitter against left-handed pitching and has hit six career home runs at Tropicana Field, his second-most at any visiting ballpark (Comerica Park, seven).
Drake, 32, has spent parts of four seasons in the majors, going 5-6 with a 4.59 ERA (137.1-IP, 70-ER) in 135 appearances, all in relief. Last season, he pitched in the majors for the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins, becoming the first player in major league history to pitch for five different teams in one season. This offseason, he was claimed by the Rays off waivers from the Twins on November 1, designated for assignment on November 20 and claimed by the Blue Jays off waivers on November 26. He was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on December 30 and acquired by the Rays in exchange for cash considerations on January 4.
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