If you’ve been following along with our recent posts surrounding Los Angeles’ prospective bullpen for the upcoming season, you’ll know that spots on the 25-man roster will be at a premium, especially at the beginning of the year. What’s more, there are two players—Garcia and righty swing man Brock Stewart—who are out of options and may even see themselves with a different organization once all the dust settles on the Opening Day roster.
The good news for Garcia is that he was tendered a contract for 2019 and he avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms to a deal on Friday. This shows that management still sees value in the 28-year-old righty, and for all intents and purposes, indicates that he’ll be battling for a roster spot during 2019 Cactus League play starting next month.
Remarkably, Garcia had the best spin-rate on a fastball in the majors heading into his 2016 campaign. Thanks to the wonders of Statcast, Garcia’s spin rate averaged 2553 RPM at that point in time, and this is worth noting because that much fastball spin is usually unheard of. The big league average that season was 2198 RPM.
During his impressive 2015 season, Garcia threw 56-2/3 innings over 59 games while posting a 3.20 FIP, a 0.953 WHIP alongside 68 punchouts. His 10.8 K/9 that year was the highest of his career, which has been otherwise drastically hampered by a plethora of injuries.
He threw just 14 major league games in 2016, and after trying to battle through elbow issues all year long, it was determined that he needed UCL surgery, which eventually kept him sidelined for the entirety of the 2017 season.
Many thought that 2018 would see Garcia re-emerge as a big league contributor, but management decided to keep him at Triple-A Oklahoma City to fine-tune his mechanics and build up his arm strength. He was initially recalled in early May, but didn’t really flash any impressive stuff. He rotated back and forth between the bigs and minors most of the year, and he was once again curbed by a few nagging injuries that prevented him from achieving any momentum, although he did make a fairly respectable run down the stretch of the regular season.
When his 2018 season was said and done, Garcia tallied a 6.34 FIP and a 1.48 WHIP while striking out 19 and walking four in 22-1/3 innings over 25 games.
As far as his repertoire goes, he’s best known for his nasty slider, but he compliments it with a mid-nineties fastball that has been known to reach up to 97 MPH. He has experimented with a changeup over the years, but still has not found much success with it, which isn’t entirely necessary for his intended role in relief. His arm angle is extremely deceptive and is a critical part of his mechanics when he’s throwing well.
Being that Garcia’s out of options and considering that players like Caleb Ferguson are likely to begin the year at Triple-A OKC, there’s a fairly reasonable shot that Yimi does indeed make the Opening Day roster, although the final determination will be based on how well he throws this spring.
If he does not make the 25-man roster, he’ll need to be released, because he has no options remaining on his contract. If that would be the case, he could still theoretically return to the organization if no other team claims him.
Garcia was originally signed for $50K as an 18-year-old free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2009.