Winners and Losers of Alex Rios Trade Between White Sox, Rangers
It appears reports of Alex Rios having no chance of being traded to Texas were premature, as Dan Hayes of Comcast SportsNet Chicago reported that the White Sox have sent the outfielder to the Rangers on Friday.
One thing that the Rangers were criticized for after the non-waiver trade deadline came was not upgrading an offense that has been pedestrian this season. They currently rank eighth in the American League with 500 runs scored.
Meanwhile, the White Sox continue their midseason fire sale. It is a bold step for an organization that has held onto aging players with big contracts far too long in the past, but a necessary one considering the system is a mess and the team is 26 games under .500.
Time will tell if Rios, hitting .277/.328/.421 with 12 home runs and 26 stolen bases, the Rangers and White Sox get everything they want from this trade, but for now here are the winners and losers from this deal as we see it.
Winner: Alex Rios
Despite being essentially dumped by a team for the second time in five years, Alex Rios now finds himself going to a much better situation in Texas than he did going from Toronto to Chicago in 2009.
The White Sox have been a sinking ship for a long time, staying afloat last year to the surprise of many, but the inevitable collapse hit in a big way this season and has made expensive veterans expendable.
Rios suddenly goes from one of the worst situations in baseball to a franchise with serious playoff aspirations. He might find a way to bring his season numbers up away from U.S. Cellular Field where he was hitting just .263/.309/.380. (On the road, Rios is hitting .289/.344/.458 with twice as many extra-base hits.)
U.S. Cellular often favors hitters, so it is strange that Rios would be struggling to hit there. But Arlington isn't exactly a pitchers' paradise, which should help his numbers in Texas.
Loser: Nelson Cruz
If ever you needed proof that Cruz's days in Texas are over now that his 50-game suspension will go through the end of the regular season, Rios is signed through 2014 with a team option for 2015.
Cruz is eligible for free agency after this season, where he was the most potent power hitter in Texas' lineup prior to the suspension. He had 27 home runs and figured to at least generate a qualifying offer from the Rangers so they could get a draft pick if he left.
Instead, things have fallen apart in a hurry for Cruz. He is 33 years old and will face a lot of questions from teams looking to sign him. Whether that ultimately drives down his market value remains to be seen, but with one fewer team in the bidding (especially one that knew him better than anyone else), it doesn't bode well for his future.
Some team will sign Cruz, of course, because right-handed power is always a luxury. But I also wonder how much his career home/road splits (.915 OPS vs. .734) will factor into how much buzz he generates.
Regardless, Rios moving into right field for Texas is bad news for Cruz.
Winner: Chicago White Sox Front Office
The White Sox have been taking on bad contracts, as well as handing them out, for years. Their payroll entering this year was $118 million, which shows just how poorly that money has been spent considering their record right now.
Shedding payroll, both to add talent to the system and gain flexibility in the future, became paramount for the front office. As far as dumping salaries go, the White Sox are doing a terrific job.
So far they have traded Matt Thornton, Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain and now Rios in moves that will save the White Sox a few million dollars for the end of this season and roughly $28 million in 2014.
When you factor in the $23 million coming off the books when Gavin Floyd and Paul Konerko hit free agency this winter, the White Sox could be looking at a payroll around $65 million next season.
I don't think they should go out and spend that money immediately on more free agents, but picking up a couple of inexpensive pieces wouldn't hurt now that they have some freedom.
Loser: Chicago White Sox Front Office
For all the good the front office has done to dump payroll, the returns that the White Sox have seen on these trades, frankly, leave a lot to be desired.
Jake Peavy was the biggest player dealt, yet the only player with a potential future they got back is Avisail Garcia. And there are doubts about just what kind of player he will be, as there is power, speed and defense in his tool package, but also poor plate discipline that hurts his ability to hit for average and show off the power.
According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Leury Garcia is expected to be the player Chicago gets back in the Rios trade. Garcia is a raw 22-year-old with a poor approach and inconsistent defense who can play multiple positions if he hits enough.
Brandon Jacobs, traded for Matt Thornton, is a toolsy outfielder whose raw skills have never translated on the field.
Basically, the White Sox have acquired a lot of stuff, but none of it is very promising. They weren't exactly dealing a lot of high-end talent, but you would think they could have gotten more than one player who projects as an everyday player in all their trades combined.
Winner: Jon Daniels
Even though Nolan Ryan is the one who tends to get a lot of the credit, because it is easier for fans to latch onto that name, Jon Daniels is the mastermind behind the Texas Rangers. This move is once again proof that he is one of the best in the business.
Think of what Daniels has done in the last three weeks.
First, the Rangers acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs for a third base prospect with no future at the position in Texas thanks to Adrian Beltre (Mike Olt), a 48th-round draft pick (C.J. Edwards), a back-end starter (Justin Grimm) and a player to be named later. That is a nice haul for Chicago, but the Rangers gave up a lot of excess to make it happen.
Now, Daniels brings aboard Rios for a prospect who had really worn out his welcome in Texas. Even though Rios has been an inconsistent performer throughout his career, he's still posting a league-average OPS+ right now for a Rangers team that needed a starting outfielder.
Loser: AL Wild Card Contenders
As of Friday, Texas and Oakland are in a gridlock for the AL West title. The A's are ahead on percentage points and with one fewer loss.
Tampa Bay holds the first wild-card spot and is two games ahead of the two AL West teams, who are in turn 1.5 games ahead of Baltimore and three ahead of Cleveland.
By securing Rios and Garza, the Rangers have made a clear statement that they aren't going to simply try and sneak into the playoffs this year. They are going for broke because that's what needs to happen to win a title.
Texas was a better team on paper than either Baltimore or Cleveland, so the postseason always seemed well within its reach. Rios isn't exactly a difference-maker offensively, but he does give the Rangers options to play with in the outfield with Leonys Martin, David Murphy and Craig Gentry.
The odds of having two AL West teams in the postseason for the second consecutive season look even stronger today than they were yesterday.
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