Garcia, 29, rejected an outright assignment from the A’s earlier this week, instead electing to become a free agent. He’d pitched 8 2/3 innings out of the Oakland bullpen prior to being designated for assignment. In that short stint, he was tagged for eight runs on 13 hits and five walks with six punchouts while averaging 95.5 mph on his heater. Overall, Garcia has a 6.29 ERA in parts of four Major League seasons, but that’s come in a minuscule sample of just 32 2/3 innings between the A’s, Orioles, Giants and Rockies.
At the Triple-A level, Garcia has had considerably better results — particularly over the past two seasons. After pitching to a 2.34 ERA in 34 2/3 frames with the Orioles’ top affiliate last year, he’s logged 25 1/3 innings of 3.20 ERA ball with the Athletics’ Triple-A club so far in 2023. Since last year, Garcia has a 2.70 ERA with a 28.7% strikeout rate but a troublesome 13.7% walk rate. That includes an 18.6% rate of issuing free passes this year, but command issues of that magnitude haven’t existed in the past; Garcia has walked only 8.4% of his nearly 2000 opponents in the minor leagues overall.
Nationals relievers currently rank 28th in Major League Baseball with a collective 5.03 ERA, though their top relievers have been far more successful. That’s a group that includes trade candidates such as Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr. and Hunter Harvey. Given the already shaky bullpen performance and the possibility of trading some of their steadiest arms as the team’s rebuild progresses, it’s only natural to see president of baseball ops Mike Rizzo stashing some additional depth in the upper minors.
Garcia entered the 2023 season with just under a year of Major League service time and crossed that threshold during his stint with the A’s. If he’s able to crack the Nationals’ roster and pitch well enough to hold down a roster spot, he’d be controllable for another five years.