Cardinals boost outfield depth with signing of Cuban MVP Garcia

Jose Adolis Garcia, pictured here congratulating Cuban teammate Yorbis Borroto during the 2015 Pan Am Games, signed with the Cardinals on Friday.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals began spring training without a great amount of outfield depth. Beyond projected starters Randal Grichuk, Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty, the only other outfielders in major league camp who played in the big leagues last season are Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez and non-roster invitee Todd Cunningham. However, they announced a signing on Friday evening that could vastly improve that depth.

The Cardinals announced the signing of Cuban free agent outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to the team’s major league spring training camp. Garcia, who turns 24 on March 2, was the MVP of Serie Nacional (Cuba’s top professional league) in 2016 and was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball last December.

The younger brother of Atlanta Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia, Adolis played for Tigres de Ciego de Avila, leading them to back-to-back Serie National championships in 2015 and 2016 and another title in 2012.

The right-handed hitting Garcia batted .315 with a .395 on-base percentage and a .517 slugging mark last season during his MVP campaign and hit .322 in 2015.

Garcia, a native of Ciego de Avila, played for Team Cuba during the July 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and belted three home runs, including a walk-off shot to defeat Puerto Rico in the Bronze Medal Game. He also played for Cuba against the Team USA National Collegiate team during the June 2015 Friendship Series in North Carolina.