In "How the Economy has affected Major League Baseball," part 1,873, Alex Rios is now a member of the South Siders—the Chicago White Sox. Rios was claimed on waivers this past weekend by the Sox and the Blue Jays agreed to let him walk yesterday while the Sox will assume the rest of Rios’ nearly $70 million contract.
Purely from a baseball standpoint, this is a great move for the Sox.
Nothing against Scott Podsednik, but Rios is a superior player at the plate and above-average in the field, and while he is having a below-average offensive season, most of that is driven by bad luck. Currently Rios has his lowest wOBA since 2005, largely driven by the lowest BABIP figure of his career. While Scotty Pods has outperformed expectations, White Sox center fielders still only have a .269 wOBA on the year. Rios easily surpasses that and if he can get back to last year’s form, he could be one of the best pickups of the year.
The drawback, however, is the money question.
Rios has an extremely backloaded contract, with salaries at the $12 million mark for 2011-14. While the media will make a big deal about how much payroll the White Sox are taking on, one key point is that the White Sox payroll dropped by $25 million in the offseason.
The club also has close to $35 million coming off the books for next year. Williams and Reinsdorf clearly want to win and aren’t shy about spending money to try and get that next championship. One big thing for the White Sox is the amount of payroll they’ve taken on recently. With the acquisition of Peavy and Rios, Kenny Williams is clearly gunning for the World Series this year.
And, all things considered, they have the team to get there. Once Peavy gets back, the White Sox rotation looks like this:
From top to bottom, I’m not sure there’s a better rotation in the American League. That certainly beats the rotations of the Angels and Tigers—the two division leaders. Only the Yankees really have a claim that they have a better rotation, but Sergio Mitre is also in that rotation, who isn’t better than Gavin Floyd.
As far as the lineup goes, Rios gives Ozzie Guillen a lot more options if he wants to rest his outfielders. Jim Thome could also get some rest against lefties. Currently the lineup looks a little crowded, but here’s a guess at a potential lineup:
That could be a potential lineup against lefties. Another lineup could look something like this against right-handers:
Either one of those lineups could be interesting. No matter what happens, the White Sox should be able to overtake Detroit with these additions and take the AL Central.
Contract data from Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Baseball Stats from Fangraphs.
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