Avisail Garcia made three plate appearances in last night’s 10-2 Brewers loss to the Cardinals, giving the Milwaukee outfielder 492 PA for the season. This is the exact number needed to turn the Brewers’ $12MM club option on Garcia for the 2022 campaign into a mutual option, and thus Garcia can now decide whether or not he wishes to remain with the Brewers or enter this winter’s free agent market.
Garcia initially came to Milwaukee via free agency in the 2019-20 offseason, as Garcia received a guaranteed $20MM over the 2019-20 seasons. This broke down as a $500K signing bonus, $17.5MM in salary, and a $2MM buyout of that 2022 club option. The club option turned into a mutual option if Garcia achieved either of two criteria — either 550 PA in 2021, or 1050 total PA over the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Contractual thresholds in the shortened 2020 season were prorated, so Garcia’s 207 PA in 2020 were the equivalent of 558 PA in a normal season. Now that the option has vested, Garcia’s buyout adjusts to $1.5MM (also based on plate appearances) should he decline his end of the mutual option.
MLBTR’s Anthony Franco outlined Garcia’s situation back on August 26, and not much has changed for the outfielder in the last four weeks. Garcia has missed a few games due to back and hamstring soreness and hit a modest .212/.255/.500 over his last 55 plate appearances. That said, Garcia has also homered in two of three games since a four-game absence due to back spasms, so it is possible he has turned the corner on his injury problems.
Another little hot streak over the Brewers’ final 10 games or (perhaps more importantly) during the postseason would only enhance what has already been a very solid year for the 30-year-old. Garcia has hit .270/.337/.506 with a career-best 29 homers, which translates to a 121 wRC+ and 122 OPS+. He has been making a lot of hard contact, and as per Statcast, Garcia might even be a little shortchanged in the production department — his .374 xwOBA is higher than his .356 wOBA. Beyond the offensive side, Garcia has also been an excellent right fielder according to the UZR/150 (13.6) and Defensive Runs Saved (9) metrics, though he is rated as merely average by Outs Above Average.
Since mutual options are almost never triggered by both sides, it’s safe to assume Garcia will look to exercise his free agent rights unless he and the Brewers can work out an extension beforehand. Between a big arbitration class and a lot of money already invested in the outfield, Milwaukee might prefer to seek out the proverbial next Avisail Garcia (i.e. another outfielder who could be signed for a mid-tier salary) rather than spend more on a player who hasn’t been very consistent over his 10 MLB seasons.
Should Garcia indeed decline the mutual option, the Brewers could also issue him a qualifying offer, so the team could obtain a compensatory draft pick if Garcia declined the QO and signed elsewhere. Though the one-year QO will be in the neighborhood of $20MM, Garcia would most likely decline that one-year payday in search of a longer-term offer on the open market.