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2013 White Sox review: Outfield

10/2/2013

Doug Padilla recaps the Sox by position and looks at what changes might be in store for 2014.

If we're not calling this a complete rebuild, then the Chicago White Sox's remodeling started in the outfield during the 2013 season when Avisail Garcia arrived in the trade that cost the team Jake Peavy. It allowed the White Sox to then flip Alex Rios for infielder Leury Garcia and some salary relief which could be used on the free agent market this season. Otherwise, the outfield was just like every other position on the team, full of disappointment and untapped potential.

The good: Dropping a young player into a losing environment is a cause for concern, but Avisail Garcia was unaffected by it after arriving from the Detroit Tigers in the three-team Peavy deal. In his 42 games with the White Sox, Garcia showed plenty of evidence why he should be a major talent moving forward. He batted .304 (49 of 161) with a .328 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage that was better than anybody on the roster.

The bad: Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza seemed to be in a duel to show who could be the most disappointing White Sox regular. The ideal scenario had Viciedo taking over as the team's top slugger. Instead, the 24-year-old swung all the way to the other side and ended up in the worst-case-scenario area. Viciedo's on-base percentage was actually up slightly this season with his slugging percentage down slightly. But his production fell woefully flat as his 14 home runs and 56 RBIs would attest. De Aza was that rare White Sox player whose offensive production actually improved this season, but he was dreadful in the field and on the bases. De Aza made eight outfield errors and nobody in the American League had more than his five errors in center.

Who's next: Avisail Garcia definitely projects as a right fielder for most of his career, but it was interesting to see that the White Sox were willing to give him a handful of games in center just as the Tigers had. Is it a sign that the White Sox might be willing to use him in center next season and either trade De Aza or non-tender him as an arbitration-eligible player this offseason? Many projections had former first-round pick Jared Mitchell starting in center field by 2014, but he regressed badly this season, ending the year at Double-A Birmingham after starting it at Triple-A Charlotte. Mitchell's combined .293 on-base percentage and .257 slugging percentage this season show he is nowhere near arriving at the big-league level.

2014 outlook: Viciedo's regression might have been the biggest strike against hitting coach Jeff Manto and a big reason he was let go at the end of the season. If a new hitting coach can get Viciedo's career back on track, while De Aza continues to move forward, that offense, combined with Avisail Garcia's, could do the team wonders. If the White Sox were interested in trading one of their outfielders, Viciedo has more value than De Aza.