Kansas City Royals Get: RF Alex Rios
Texas Rangers Get: SP Sean Manaea and a player to be named later
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman came out with a list of players likely to hit the waiver wire this August and split it up into three sections based on the likelihood that the player will clear the waiver process and be eligible for trade to any team.
Texas Rangers right fielder Alex Rios was one of the players that Heyman projects will make it all the way through. If Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore is smart, however, he will jump at the chance to claim the right-handed hitter, forcing Rangers general manager Jon Daniels to deal only with him.
Make no mistake: The Royals are very much in a position where they need to add a bat. Entering play on Monday, they sat a mere 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild-card spot. They also face the reality that James Shields will likely depart via free agency this offseason, making the window to reach the postseason rather short.
The Royals are in on Rios, too. After all, they’d expressed interest in the past, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, and have the talent to make a deal happen, including left-hander Sean Manaea.
Manaea, who is ranked as the organization’s No. 3 prospect, should be ready by the end of next season and would provide the Rangers the type of young arm that they will surely need in the coming seasons.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo had this to say about the High-A hurler:
With hip surgery behind him, all signs point to a healthy Manaea showing the Royals that he was worth the gamble. Manaea has a plus fastball from the left side, with late life and deception. His hard slurvy slider gives him a second above-average pitch, and his changeup has the chance to be an average offering, as well.
Assuming health, Manaea has the kind of stuff that should allow him to move through the system quickly, though Kansas City will probably want to let him log some innings and put the injury behind him first.
Logging innings will be something Manaea (4-7, 3.61 ERA) will certainly do. And if the Rangers can get him some innings in the Arizona Fall League, they could speed up his development with an outside chance of making the jump to the big leagues next season.
As far as Rios goes, he would immediately improve manager Ned Yost's offense. As of game time on Monday, he had a .300/.330/.423 slash line and has 22 doubles, eight triples and 43 RBI.
Of particular interest to the fanbase in Kansas City is how productive Rios is setting the table at the top of the order. In 149 at-bats hitting third, for example, he was slashing out at .295/.321/.396 with 10 doubles, per splits over at Baseball-Reference.
In contrast, the No. 3 hitters for the Royals have combined for a .230/.276/.316 slash and are simply not setting up the rest of the lineup. The lack of production from Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler is one of the reasons the offense has been inconsistent.
Yes, combined with the trade for Shields prior to last season, this move would put the farm system in a precarious position. It is the cost of chasing the playoffs, however. And without adding a guy like Rios, the chances the Royals make it into October are not strong.
All of this is assuming that the Seattle Mariners—who can place a claim before the Royals can based on their current record—take a pass on Rios, which isn't a certainty. Don't forget, the Mariners tried landing him at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but as Rosenthal noted, Daniels was “closer elsewhere.”
Now just after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Moore was quoted as saying that "there's always going to be opportunities," via Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. This is one of those times.
Who knows? Perhaps it's been the Royals all along.