Texas Rangers kick off 2024 by showing disrespect to a playoff hero

Arbitration deadline day came and went and most players came to an agreement except for one important piece to the team. Find out why Texas might have lowballed one of their core pieces.
Texas Rangers Victory Parade
Texas Rangers Victory Parade / Pool/GettyImages

Texas made a lot of news on Thursday as they signed seven of their eight arbitration-eligible players and potentially signed their backup catcher for 2024 in Andrew Knizner. Late on Thursday night, it was revealed that the one player they did not sign was Adolis Garcia. Garcia asked for 6.9 million for this season and Texas countered with 5 million. It is the largest gap between a player and a team in outstanding arbitration cases. It is a massive show of disrespect just two and a half months after Garcia helped lead Texas to rally against Houston in games six and seven of the ALCS and then hit the game-winning home run in game one of the World Series. It begs a deeper dive into why there exists such a wide gap and what this means about his future with the team.

Why is there such a wide gap between the two sides?

There is no official comment from the team about this, but I am going to guess that there is one major difference between the two sides. Texas is treating Garcia like the first-time arbitration eligible player that he is. I am sure in their minds 5 million is a reasonable amount for a first time player. This amount will help guide what he makes in years two and three of arbitration and so they wanted the number to be lower to keep years two and three lower as well.

Garcia on the other hand wants to be paid like the older player he is now and not like a 23 or 24-year-old player who is facing arbitration for the first time. He can look at his regular season numbers as well as his postseason and make the case that he is the second-best right-fielder in baseball. He is a top-25 position player according to WAR in the game overall. He is still in his prime and getting better every season. If he was a free agent now he would easily make 15-20 million per season if not more. One more thing MLBtraderumors.com projected him as a $6.6 million arbitration player and that was before the magical postseason run Garcia had.

Texas is being forced to wait on the media rights deal as the negotiations are ongoing between MLB and Diamond Sports. I understand why that would force Texas to hold off on signing external free agents. They should not be disrespecting the players that are currently on the team. That is absolutely what they have done with Garcia. The two sides still have time to talk this out before heading into the hearing room. Texas has not had an arbitration hearing since Lee Stevens in 2000. Texas then traded Stevens after the 2000 season.

Does this say anything about Garcia's future with the Texas Rangers?

I will say it is not good, but also to not overreact either. If the two sides in the coming weeks agree then everything can go back to status quo and they can spend 2024 rebuilding the relationship. If this does go to a hearing then that may be a point of no return for Garcia. Arbitration hearings can be brutal. The team would have to prepare a case outlining why they think Garcia is worth less than what he says. It would be spent highlighting the negatives of his play on the field. They would do all of this in front of Garcia and his representation. Then Garcia's side would make the case why he is worth more and the arbitrator would then decide and that would be his salary for the season.

Players who have been through the process have come out and will never trust the front office ever again. Harold Reynolds said this in an MLB.com article back in 2018,

"I remember my teammate Julio Cruz telling me, 'You never want to go in that room. You'll never be the same player coming out. You'll never see the organization the same way. The longer you can fool yourself that it's a business, the better off you are."

Harold Reynolds

It reminds them that even though they play a game for a living there is also a dark business side to the game. It becomes that much harder for players to want to sign an extension when they hear how the team thinks about them. Texas has been able to avoid this for 23 seasons intentionally. Some teams take pride in their ability to win their arbitration cases, but Texas has stayed above that by avoiding cases altogether.

That is what makes this such a strange situation. Garcia is one of Texas' best players and most marketable as well. El Bombi arrived on the national stage in October and is in position now to further enrich his brand in 2024. Texas should be taking advantage of that and treating like him like the superstar he is. The news around Garcia should be about an extension being in the works. Now this kind of puts a damper on that and probably makes it much harder for him to want to consider signing that.

What is next for Garcia and the Texas Rangers?

The two sides have exchanged figures. Now a hearing will be scheduled and it will take place between January 29th and February 16th. The two sides have until they walk into the hearing room to agree. Deadlines make deals and so I would not expect to hear anything about an agreement until we get closer to the 29th. Chris Young is not Jon Daniels and we will see if he wants to go to a hearing or if the two sides can find a compromise.

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