There are a lot of things we can criticize the St. Louis Cardinals front office for over the years. Trading away Zac Gallen and Sandy Alcantara for Marcell Ozuna, the Randy Arozarena trade, signings like Dexter Fowler and Mike Leake, and passing on guys like Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper. Those were all terrible moves that the front office just completely whiffed on and just aren't defendable.
Every once in a while though, a player is "given up on" by an organization in a move that few bat their eyes at. Adolis Garcia had limited opportunities in St. Louis, but with the number of outfielders they had coming through the system and Garcia not making much noise in his very limited playing time, the Cardinals decided to move on from a 25-year-old outfielder after the 2018 season.
After being traded to the Texas Rangers, they too designated Adolis Garcia for an assignment, and not a single team in baseball decided to claim him. It was clear that Major League Baseball just wasn't all that interested in what Garcia had to offer, but he continued to work hard and prove literally everyone wrong.
Garcia saw no Major League time in 2019 and just three games in 2020, before his first breakout season in 2021 where he was named an All-Star and hit 31 home runs to the tune of a .741 OPS. He was a very productive hitter once again in 2022, but 2023 is where Garcia has truly taken off as a player.
Earning his second All-Star nod, Garcia slashed .245/.328/.508 with 39 HR and 107 RBI for the Rangers, propelling them back to the playoffs and now one win away from a trip to the World Series.
After falling behind the Houston Astros three games to two in the ALCS, the Rangers were up 5-2 in the top of the 9th in Game 6, when Garcia stepped to the plate and launched a grand slam to put the game out of reach.
Garcia has been unstoppable this offseason, with shades of Randy Arozarena from the 2020 postseason all over him. He's posted a .923 OPS in his 49 postseason plate appearances this year, including 3 home runs and 10 RBI in the ALCS thus far. If the Rangers are able to make it to the World Series, Garcia will be one of the major reasons why.
Does this hurt as a Cardinals fan? For sure. Even if all of baseball had an opportunity at him, it's frustrating that he was within your own organization and you moved on from him. It's also not helpful when they have a recent history of giving up on the wrong guys (Gallen, Alcantara, and Arozarena), so this just feels like another move in that vein.
Fans can be frustrated at the Cardinals for this, but I see this less as a "miss on talent evaluation" from St. Louis like those other moves were, and more as a feel-good story of a guy who worked his tail off to turn his career around and now is producing in the biggest moments. I'm rooting for Adolis Garcia, even as I wish he was mashing home runs for the Cardinals instead.