Frankly, this move puzzles me a bit.
My problem is not with Rios's ability. He's a good athlete that can run, field and hit.
However, I'm not sure how well he really fits on the Sox.
Their outfield is relatively set for the rest of the season. While it's not the greatest defensive outfield, Podsednik is their lead off man, Dye hits third and Quentin was an MVP candidate last season.
Are they really going to send one of them to the bench on a regular basis? This acquisition would give them four starting caliber outfielders. Granted Quentin has struggled, but he actually has a higher OPS on the season than Rios.
There's no doubt that Rios would help the team. He's a far better fielder than anyone currently on the Sox roster and has the potential to make a difference with his bat as well. That said, they would be taking quite a risk for a guy that may not have a definite role on the current team.
This wouldn't be anywhere near as big an issue if his contract were more reasonable. While the financial commitment for this season is minimal, he will make more than $12 million a year over the next five seasons.
That's a lot of future payroll commitment for a guy that would essentially serve as a fourth outfielder at the moment (albeit a very good one that should really be starting).
Is that really the smartest investment considering they already have about $30 million tied up in Buehrle and Peavy for the next several years?
Keep in mind that we are talking about a player that has career highs of 24 homers and 85 RBI. He does have good contact skills, but because he doesn't take a ton of walks his career OBP sits at .335. He's also not having the greatest season so far: he's currently hitting .262 with a .316 OBP.
If Rios can perform like he did in 2006 and 2007, then there really isn't anything to worry about. However, that's far from a guarantee and there's a real potential that they'll be stuck with a good but not elite player at an All-Star price.
Alex Rios is definitely an asset. However, I am a bit concerned about his potential impact on the payroll. At least with Jake Peavy you know that he can be a dominant starter at his peak, even in his best years Rios has basically performed like a less powerful Jermaine Dye.
It seems like they can afford him in 2009 and 2010, but what about 2011 and beyond? What will happen when they have other holes to fill in the lineup or bullpen, or when they have to start worrying about extending youngsters like John Danks and Gavin Floyd?
I love the young talent that the Sox have stockpiled in the minors, but I'd rather not see them forced to play them at multiple positions because they spent too much on a good but not great player.
It just seems like an unnecessary financial risk at this particular time considering this has a bigger impact on the future than it does on this season. We haven't explored our options on the free agent market yet, which could potentially bring the Sox a solid replacement at a much lower price.
Even if that falls through, I have a hard time believing that Rios would not be available in a few months.
I can't say I'd be upset if they acquired Rios, he's definitely talented and I'm not the one that has to pay him. It'd definitely be another win-now move to add to Kenny Williams' resume.
However, I wonder if they're extending themselves a little too far financially to try to win now, and what it could potentially cost them down the road if things don't work out.