On Friday, former MVP of the Cuban Serie Nacional OF Jose Adolis Garcia signed a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training with the St. Louis Cardinals. Garcia will receive a $2.5 million signing bonus according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Garcia’s signing will not count against the Cardinals International Amateur spending limits because of his age and professional experience in Cuba and Japan.
On the field, Garcia faces stiff competition for a backup OF spot on the MLB roster from players like Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez, Todd Cunningham, and Chad Huffman. His biggest obstacle appears to be off the field currently as he cannot appear in Spring Training games until he obtains a work visa. The Cardinals expect that his work visa will be processed by the middle of March, but no one truly knows at this point.
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak spoke to the Associated Press today and is optimistic that the right handed batting Garcia will reach the majors this season, “In terms of skillset, I just feel like I would describe him more as a five-tool player, so from a defensive standpoint, above average, from an offensive standpoint, I think there could be some power.”
Garcia spoke with the media today through an interpreter and mentioned that he had received “other offers” but that “because of the tradition and because it is such a wonderful organization, I knew that I was going to identify with the team and fit in.”
Cuban native Aledmys Diaz couldn’t have hurt the Cardinals chances of landing Garcia either and presumably was who he was referring to as one of the players he could identify with.
Ben Badler of Baseball America believes that Garcia still needs some seasoning in the minor leagues despite his .315/.395/.517 slash line during his MVP season in Cuba. This would fit the bill with how the Cardinals handled Aledmys Diaz’ transition into American professional ball.
Garcia most likely will start the year off at AA Springfield but a strong spring may force the Cardinals to rethink that plan with a spot at Memphis.
The Cardinals have been aggressive during this year’s International Amateur signing period. During the summer, the increased spending was presumably due to the expected penalty from the Commissioner’s office in response to the “hacking” of the Houston Astros by former Scouting Director Chris Correa. The signing of Garcia only adds to this response and helps lower the blow of the penalty of the loss of their first two draft picks in 2017.