I had always been a big fan of Freddy Garcia. He developed into an frontline starting pitcher when he first came into the league with the Mariners. Garcia threw a mid-90's fastball and hard slider that stifled opposing batters. Heck, everyone wanted him. In fact, he would eventually be involved in two blockbuster trades that saw him exchanged for top prospects like Michael Morse and Gio Gonzalez.
Then with the Phillies, the wear and tear of throwing seven consecutive 200+ innings finally wore on him. The wheels fell off. In 2007, he developed shoulder problems that would eventually lead to labrum surgery and a lost year. On top of that, Garcia would never be the same pitcher he was before.
Garcia's velocity had diminished significantly, so he had to relearn his craft and change his game. And that he did with some marginal success. No longer a strike out specialist, he won 12 games for the White Sox in 2010 and recorded a WAR of 2.3. Then the following season with the Yankees he won another 12 games with a 3.62 ERA and a WAR of 3.5. Garcia was learning to locate his pitches and eventually developed a bevy of different pitches to deploy against batters.
Now at 38 years old he is a journeyman pitcher. He has bounced around; even playing in Taiwan last season for the EDA Rhinos of the CPBL (the same team Manny Ramirez would play for).
Last night, it was announced through various news sources that the Dodgers have signed Garcia to a minor league contract. I do not expect him to be a replacement for Ryu - who will begin the season on the DL. Instead, he'll begin his Dodger career with our AAA club in Oklahoma City, per a tweet from Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
Needing someone to eat innings at AAA in the wake of injuries to Bedard and Gaudin, #Dodgers sign Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) March 31, 2015
So he'll provide minor league depth with a possible opportunity to pitch in a pinch in Los Angeles should the need arise. That being said, I do have a great appreciation for guys who've struggled and fought back to do the thing they love, and I have nothing but praise and well-wishes for Garcia and his future with the Dodgers.
In celebration of Garcia's arrival to the club I made the above fantasy card for him. I grabbed a photo tweeted by the CPBL (as a member of the EDA Rhinos) and the 1972 Topps Baseball card design.
Below are the career stats for Freddy Garcia, via Baseball-Reference:
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