Reports: Leury García rejoining Sox on three-year deal originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Leury García will remain the longest tenured member of the Chicago White Sox' roster.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday afternoon that the White Sox and García agreed to a three-year pact that will keep the team's epitome of versatility on the South Side through the 2024 season.
It's an unsurprising move, considering how highly the White Sox think of García, known in-house as "The Legend." General manager Rick Hahn said during the GM meetings earlier this month in Southern California that the team would be happy to find a way to bring García back.
"We love Leury," Hahn said. "His versatility, his availability has value. It will likely have value in the market to others, as well. I think all teams are guilty of becoming a little bit biased in favor of their guys, whether it's guys you drafted, or guys like Leury who were with us for a long time. But we certainly see his value, and he played an important role on a team that was banged up last year. His ability to fill in competently at different spots was important."
García had himself a strong second half in 2021, a year that, as Hahn mentioned, saw him step up repeatedly amid the White Sox' numerous injuries to key contributors. Able to man all three outfield positions and play three different spots on the infield, García — first acquired in the trade that sent Alex Ríos to the Texas Rangers in 2013 — has long been a favorite of his managers, and Tony La Russa is no exception, singing the praises of García throughout the 2021 season.
The Hall-of-Fame skipper even bristled at references to García as a traditional utility man, describing him as an everyday player who just happens to play all over.
"He doesn't have big ups and downs. He doesn't hide when he's had a tough out or tough day. He doesn't go crazy. He's really one of the most popular teammates in the clubhouse because he's got a sense of humor. He's really solid," La Russa said in September. "You look at his arm, switch-hitting and playing every position. He can pitch, too. He's a really talented star player."
García has long filled in wherever necessary, and with injuries and the team's rebuilding project forcing him into frequent playing time, he's often been the target of fan frustrations — something that's unlikely to change in the immediate as certain segments of the fan base remain irritated the team is not among those snatching up the game's top free agents.
But he's always been beloved in the White Sox' clubhouse and earned plenty of cheers from the stands thanks to an .861 OPS in September and two huge moments late in the season: a walk-off home run to beat the Boston Red Sox and the go-ahead blast in the team's lone playoff win in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
However La Russa continues to decide to deploy García moving forward, it's long seemed that García is best suited in a role that allows him to utilize that versatility, a player who can be plugged in all over the diamond. Though with the White Sox still in dire need of a second baseman, the team's depth chart, as it stands this very second, would likely have García as the starter at that position. Of course, the offseason is far from over, and Hahn's front office has plenty of moves to make, including those that could install a new everyday second baseman and slide García back into a role that best suits him.
While focus will continue to be on the bigger moves that have yet to come, the two signings executed by the front office so far have indeed been valuable ones: keeping García as a valuable, versatile piece and addressing a depleted back end of the bullpen with a three-year deal for reliever Kendall Graveman, which was made official Tuesday.
Patience is rarely in ample supply during Hot Stove season, especially in this unique moment, with signings flooding everyone's Twitter feeds ahead of an anticipated lockout. But the White Sox have plenty of time left to finish their offseason work, even if the options fans have been focused on are dwindling, and have already made a couple positive additions as they aim to chase a World Series championship in 2022.