He was there when the rotation needed a few extra innings late in 2013, and he’ll be back at the ready again for 2014: free agent starter Freddy García has signed a minor league deal with Atlanta – a deal that includes a Spring invite. This was reported first by Jerry Crasnick via tweet, later confirmed by several others.
A 37-year-old veteran of 15 major league seasons, The Chief, a Venezuelan native, started only three games for Atlanta last year – but it was in the very last game of the year that gave the team hope as he scattered 8 hits and two earned runs over six innings. Overall he threw 27 innings with a 1.58 ERA in the regular season. The Braves apparently liked what they saw and will see what he can offer… but only through the end of Spring Training (as we’ll see below).
Over his career, Garcia owns a 4.15 ERA in the majors, striking out roughly 6-and-a-half batters per nine innings and walking a bit fewer than half that rate. His lifetime record is 156-108 and he’s played for 7 teams at that level (Mariners, White Sox, Phillies, Tigers, Yankees, Orioles, Braves), plus 1 other at AAA (Mets).
Terms of the deal are sketchy, but outlined here by Jon Heyman:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 24, 2014
…but then again, he might not be with the team for very long:
Garcia gets $1.25M with #Braves if makes MLB. Can make $1.25M in GS [Games Started] bonuses, $1M in rlf app. Can request release if not on MLB roster 3/25
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 24, 2014
The Braves’ 40-man roster currently stands at 39 names – and Garcia will not be added right away. But it’s clear that he wants another shot in the majors… and he’ll have a chance to earn it. That March 25th provision does not allow them to freely stash him at AAA: in fact, if the Braves decide not to use him, he’ll be able to take that “out” clause and shop himself around to other clubs who might have had an injury at that point. So while my initial thought was “insurance policy”, the Braves will only have a limited amount of time to exercise that policy, for there’s otherwise a pretty fair chance that Garcia could be elsewhere by opening day.