MILWAUKEE (AP) — Now that the Milwaukee Brewers have added Avisaíl García to their talented outfield, Ryan Braun could see more time at first base.
García’s $20 million, two-year contract was finalized Tuesday, a deal that includes a 2022 club option and could be worth $30 million over three years.
Braun, who turned 36 last month, is Milwaukee’s primary left fielder. The 2011 NL MVP played 18 games at first in 2018 but none this year.
“Ryan’s going to see some time at first base,” general manager David Stearns said. “He’s open to it. He understands it. We certainly believe he can play over there at a good level, so that will be part of the rotation in 2020 but that will not be his exclusive position.”
García gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $7 million next year and $10.5 million in 2021. The Brewers have a $12 million option for 2020 with a $2 million buyout, and the option would become mutual if García has 550 plate appearances in 2021 or 1,050 in 2020 and ’21 combined. If the option becomes mutual, García would get a buyout if he declines it, the amount depending on plate appearances in 2020 and ’21 combined: $500,000 for 601-800, $750,000 for 801-900, $1 million for 901-1,050, $1.5 million for 1,051-1,250 and $2 million for more than 1,250.
García batted .282 with a career-high 20 home runs and 72 RBIs for the Tampa Bay Rays last season, spending most of his time in right field. He joins a crowded Milwaukee outfield that includes 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich, Braun and two-time All-Star Lorenzo Cain.
“Sometimes, I’m going to play center. Most of the time, I’m going to play left field. I’m OK with it,” García said.
The 28-year-old García played in 125 games with the Rays last season. In five seasons with the White Sox, Garcia hit .271 with 74 home runs and 289 RBIs, including posting career highs in batting average (.330) and RBIs (80) in 2017, when he was an All-Star.
García was limited by knee and hamstring injuries during his final season in Chicago in 2018. Garcia helped the Rays reach the AL Division Series last season for the first time since 2013.
“The trainers in Tampa did a great job with me, Garcia said. ”When you’re healthy, you can do a lot of things. I think that’s the case with me. I got to play every single game. I got surgery on my knee in 2018, now I go to Tampa and stay healthy, and I put up good numbers.”
Garcia, a native of Anaco, Venezuela, is from the same town as Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia and played Little League ball with Orlando’s brother, Oswaldo. Garcia is also friends with Brewers catcher Manny Piña.
“I think it’s a great place to play baseball,” García said of Milwaukee. “They are ready to compete, so that’s what I liked. I like to win. That’s the right team to go to.”
Garcia has a career average of .273 with 96 home runs and 374 RBIs since beginning his major league career with the Detroit Tigers in 2012.