GLENDALE, Ariz. – It was a dreary morning in the desert Saturday, unless you were Aaron Bummer and Leury Garcia.
About two hours before the White Sox were scheduled to open Cactus League play against the Angels at Camelback Ranch – the game was canceled because of rain – Bummer and Garcia were beaming after agreeing to contract extensions.
Bummer, a left-handed reliever, signed a five-year, $16 million contract. The deal includes two club option years that could keep the 26-year-old pitcher in a Sox uniform through the 2026 season.
Garcia inked a one-year, $3.25 million contract that includes a $3.5 million club option for 2021.
“It’s kind of crazy that last spring I was getting my teeth kicked in,” Bummer said. “I think I had a 22 ERA or something like that. To be standing here now, it’s kind of an amazing feeling. I don’t know if we ever thought we were going to get to this point.
“I was a 19th-round draft pick (in 2014). Just to be standing in the clubhouse is an amazing feeling. Now to be able to take care of my family for the rest of our lives, that’s pretty awesome.”
Average at best during his first two seasons in the Sox’s bullpen, Bummer was well below that range in exhibition play last spring. In six exhibition innings, he allowed eight earned runs on 11 hits and seven walks.
When the 2019 regular season started, so did Bummer.
“He’s got great stuff,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Knock on wood, keep him healthy, and if he continues to go out there and do what he does, he’s going to be able to help us quite a bit.”
Last season, Bummer had a 2.13 ERA, 1 save, 27 holds, 60 strikeouts over 67 2⁄3 innings and a 0.99 WHIP in 58 relief appearances.
The Sox are literally banking he’ll be just as good or better moving forward.
“It gives you a sense of stability,” Bummer said. “The relief market really is as volatile as it gets. I think it probably is the most volatile in the game. The fact that they had faith in me to continue to work, to continue to go out there and do my job and continue to progress, it’s going to be a lot easier to sleep at night.”
With the three-batter minimum rule for relief pitchers debuting this season, Bummer could turn out to be a huge value. In 2019, he held left-handed hitters to a .178 batting average and right-handers to a .188 average.
“It’s hugely important,” Renteria said. “Being able to have a reliever that can work both boxes effectively is going to be very, very important.”
The White Sox frequently sign players to contract extensions in spring training. Eloy Jimenez last March and Tim Anderson in 2017 are the most recent examples.
With Bummer and Garcia in the fold, are rising stars Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito next up on the list?
“It’s a natural time for that type of speculation,” said Jeremy Haber, the Sox’s assistant general manager. “Our track record in terms of the organizational approach to these is pretty clear at this point. But today, we are just talking about the ones we’ve been able to get done.”
Under the terms of Bummer’s contract, he receives $1 million this season, $2 million in 2021, $2.5 million in ’22, $3.75 million in ’23 and $5.5 million in ’24. The White Sox hold options for $7.25 million in 2025 and $7.5 million in ’26, with $1.25 million buyouts for either season.
Like Bummer, the versatile Garcia is grateful for having some financial security.
“I’m happy with this contract,” he said through a translator. “It means a lot. It shows the confidence and trust the team has in me. Definitely it gives stability for me and my family, too.”
Last season, the 29-year-old Garcia hit .279 with 27 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 40 RBI and 93 runs scored in 140 games.
Garcia played all three outfield spots in 2019, as well second base, third and shortstop. He is likely to open the season at second base until Nick Madrigal is ready to take over.