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Report: Brewers favorites to sign Avisail Garcia, but situation considered “fluid”

Milwaukee may be closing in on adding a significant bat to the lineup, but there still appear to be hangups in the negotiations

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Avisail Garcia isn’t a Brewer yet, but if recent reports come to fruition, it may not be long.

The Brewers’ interest in the former Tigers, White Sox and Rays outfielder was first reported late Friday night, and since then, it looks like progress in negotiations has been slow, but steady.

As of Monday, no deal has been reached yet, but most of the national reports are seemingly treating it as a near foregone conclusion.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday that Garcia was in “advanced” talks with the Brewers. Jon Heyman provided an update today saying the two sides are continuing to negotiate, but “nothing is done” and called the situation “fluid.”

Considering this type of thing -- rumors of a move being mentioned for days before anything is actually done -- is out of character for David Stearns and the Brewers (most of his moves tend to come with little to no warning, like trading Zach Davies and Trent Grisham to San Diego, or signing Josh Lindblom), you’d be forgiven if you thought something fishy was going on.

After all, Garcia doesn’t seem to be the kind of free agent that would require a long negotiating process, trying to match or top several other teams’ offers or quibbling over perks and bonuses. Tom Haudricourt, who added a “nothing to report today” on the Garcia negotiations at today’s Josh Lindblom press conference, has some insight on what might be taking so long:

Garcia missed some time with an oblique injury in August, but was otherwise healthy in 2019 as he put up one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .282/.332/.464 with an OPS+ of 111 in 530 plate appearances over 125 games for Tampa Bay.

The 28-year-old has increased his home run production in each of the last three years, hitting a career-high 20 this past season while also adding 25 doubles. His wRC+ of 112 put him just outside the Top 30 among outfielders in 2019, and was better than fellow free agents Marcell Ozuna (110) and Yasiel Puig (101) -- both of whom figure to make much more this winter.

The potential signing of Garcia may mean more Ryan Braun at first base -- Stearns did say they’ve again spoken to Braun about defensive versatility -- but Craig Counsell could likely find enough plate appearances for everyone in the outfield, given Braun’s need for regular off days, and a similar plan possible for Lorenzo Cain as he gets older.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs