Right-handed pitcher Freddy Garcia has quite a history with the Chicago White Sox. He was, of course, a shining spoke in the speeding wheel that was the Sox 2005 starting rotation. It was a staff that rolled through the postseason that year, throwing complete game after complete game, on its way to winning the World Series.
Garcia is also a prodigal son of sorts. After being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez, and pitching (sparsely and not particularly well) for the Phillies and then the Detroit Tigers, he returned to the South Side on a free agent deal in June of 2009. Garcia went on to win back the confidence and support of many Sox fans in 2010 as he battled his way through the season -- a solid, resilient fifth starter.
So are the Sox ready for more Freddy? That's the question on many minds at the moment. General manager Kenny Williams is certainly interested in Garcia. "He is one of my favorite competitors I've ever run across in athletic life," Williams told mlb.com this week. But whether a deal is even on the table is hard to say at this point. "I wouldn't describe it as a formal offer," said Williams regarding communications between the two parties, "And I wouldn't describe it as a formal rejection."
But news hit today that, though Freddy apparently wants to wear the black and white, it's probably not exactly the kind you're envisioning.
According to a translation provided by MLB Trade Rumors, Garcia told the Venezuelan news site Meridiano:
My preference is to be with the New York Yankees, and it's not unreasonable to have that in mind, because I've demonstrated that I can be useful. A team like New York would be ideal for my age, [as would ] playing in a successful, media-heavy, demanding division. Without doubt it would be an inspiration.
Whoa, whoa, whoa ... Freddy, dude. Granted, the Yankees do appear to be desperately looking for arms to fill out their rotation as the "Andy Pettitte Retirement Watch" drifts into Brett Favre waters and we all snicker over the minor league deal handed to 37-year-old (and former White Sox, however briefly) Bartolo Colon. But you want successful? The White Sox are, arguably, the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central this season. You want media-heavy? This is Chicago. Gotcha covered. You want demanding? Hey, the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers are certainly still in play. It's unlikely 2011 will be a cake walk.
Naturally, Garcia could simply and rather wisely be driving up his own contract price. It would certainly benefit his wallet if the Sox and Yanks got into a bidding war over his services. And, given Freddy's long-standing relationship with Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and his familiarity with the team, he must presumably know how easy it would be to get a deal done.
Then again, Garcia must also know that the White Sox don't really need a fifth starter long-term. As soon as Jake Peavy is ready to pitch, whoever is standing in that No. 5 spot will be bounced to the pen. So maybe a deal with the Yankees would make more sense for Freddy after all, assuming he wants to remain a starter throughout the season.
There's also the hanging question as to whether the Sox will give top prospect Chris Sale a rotation spot for a month or so then shift him back to the pen when Peavy is ready. That's what Kenny Williams seems to think might happen, anyway. He told the Sun-Times last weekend, "My feeling is [Sale] will ultimately be in the bullpen because we won’t have that need [to start] for no longer than 30 days if we have it at all." Williams did say, however, that Sale will continue to prepare as a starter, not a reliever.
So the fifth starter saga soldiers on for Sox fans -- with a decidedly New York twist coming today by way of Caracas.