Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Rios is following up his renaissance 2012 season with yet another fruitful campaign in 2013. The 32-year-old Rios is hitting .282 (115 OPS) with 11 home runs, 12 stolen bases, 33 RBI, and 37 runs so far.
The Chicago White Sox were poised for another winning season in 2013. Under the guidance of second year manager—and former fan favorite third baseman—Robin Ventura, White Sox fans were hopeful that the team could build on their exciting 85 win season the year before.
But just about everything that could go wrong has for the White Sox in 2013. The team lost starter Gavin Floyd for the season with a torn flexor muscle and ulnar collateral ligament, and now, ace pitcher Jake Peavy is expected to miss at least a month with a fractured left rib.
In addition, just about every hitter has underperformed, and 27-year-old Tyler Flowers, who took over the catching duties from departed veteran A.J. Pierzynski (park adjusted 119 OPS+ in 2012), has been an offensive dud (park adjusted 72 OPS+ in 2013).
|Player ||BA (Career) ||BA (2013) ||BB% (Career) ||BB% (2013) ||OPS+ (Career) ||OPS+ (2013)
|Adam Dunn ||.240 ||.182 ||16.2% ||10.7% ||126 ||87
|Jeff Keppinger ||.288 ||.226 ||6.6% ||1.8% ||97 ||34
|Alexei Ramirez ||.276 ||.268 ||5.2% ||3.7% ||91 ||69
|Dayan Viciedo ||.263 ||.230 ||5.1% ||5.3% ||97 ||70
|Alejandro De Aza ||.280 ||.262 ||7.8% ||6.5% ||102 ||94
|Paul Konerko ||.283 ||.248 ||9.8% ||7.7% ||121 ||81
While the White Sox would be forced to "sell low" on a lot of their trade chips, the team also has a bunch of intriguing options to pick from as well.
If teams in search of a closer find Jonathan Papelbon to be too expensive (both his contract and the return), White Sox setup man Jesse Crain might be a nice alternative. Crain, 31, has posted a 0.57 ERA (vs. park adjusted 764 ERA+), 0.97 WHIP, and 4.67 K/BB over 31.2 innings this year. The right-handed pitcher, whose average fastball clocks in at 94.4 MPH, only has four career saves—but then again, his former Minnesota Twins teammate Glen Perkins only racked up two saves before shutting the door 16 times in 2012, and another 18 times already this season. Crain will be a free agent after the season.
The White Sox could also be a target for teams in pursuit of non-closing relievers. Both right-handed Matt Lindstrom and left-handed Matt Thornton are enjoying productive seasons, hurling a 2.83 ERA (vs. park adjusted 154 ERA+) and 3.47 ERA (vs. park adjusted 126 ERA+), respectively. Like Crain, both veteran relievers will be free agents at year's end.
The other three, more lucrative veteran trade chips would be Paul Konerko, Jake Peavy, and Alex Rios.
At age 37, it appears as though Father Time has finally caught up with the former-slugging Konerko. As the above chart indicates, the right-handed hitting first baseman's 2013 output has been far below his career averages. However, since Konerko will be a free agent after the season, a prospective team wouldn't be on the hook for nearly as much money as if they acquired, say, Adam Dunn (and his guaranteed $15 million in 2014) instead. Similar to how the New York Yankees acquired Lance Berkman at the deadline in 2010, teams could use Konerko in a limited role—especially since he still rakes against left-handed pitching (park-adjusted 125 wRC+ vs. LHP in 2013).
Aside from Konerko, the White Sox's two biggest chips would be Peavy and Rios. Prior to the broken rib, the 32-year-old Peavy still wasn't quite as dominant as he was in 2012 (3.37 ERA vs. park adjusted 128 ERA+), posting a pedestrian 4.30 ERA (vs. park adjusted 100 ERA+ in 2013). But given the dearth of available starting pitchers, the White Sox shouldn't have too much trouble finding a taker for Peavy (assuming he's healthy by July 31).
The White Sox were rightfully worried in 2011, when Rios only mustered a .227 BA (vs. park adjusted 63 OPS+), 13 home runs, and 11 stolen bases. But since then, Rios has been hitting more closely to his 2006-08 prime years. In 2012, the right-handed hitter finished in the top 15 of the MVP ballot, swinging to the tune of a .304 BA (vs. park adjusted 125 OPS+), 25 home runs, 23 stolen bases, and 91 RBI. The 32 year old hasn't been quite as good in 2013, swatting a .282 BA (vs. park adjusted 115 OPS+) with 11 home runs and 12 stolen bases, but any contending team in need of an upgrade in right field should be interested in Rios' services.