Rangers Rip White Sox Off In Alex Rios Trade

The non-waiver trade deadline was 9 days ago, at which point it was believed White Sox outfielder Alex Rios was one of — if not the – top bats on the market. As recently as just over a week ago, Chicago was supposedly demanding from the Rangers both LHP Martin Perez and top pitching prospect, RHP Luke Jackson, at which point Jon Daniels probably laughed hysterically before imploring Rick Hahn to never call him again on that number. (Richard Durrett.)

Then yesterday, in what really wasn’t earth-shattering news, it became known the Rangers put in a waiver claim on Rios. The waiver process works in such a way that whomever claims the player in question has exclusive negotiating rights with the team that put the player on waivers. However, if a player does manage to clear waivers, he may be traded anywhere, much like the July 31st deadline.

By the Rangers claiming Alex Rios, the White Sox basically saw all their leverage dissolve into a fine powder, because rather than being able to shop Rios on the open market, Texas was the lone bidder. Supply and demand. Though, even with that said, no one had a gun to the head of Rick Haun; he didn’t have to trade his outfielder, which makes today’s transaction nothing short of baffling from his perspective.

Along with Rios, the White Sox are sending $1 million to Texas (perhaps to help pay for the $500K buyout escalator in his contract that is now at play since he was traded). In return, Chicago picks up Leury Garcia, 22, who as you probably recall was the Rangers sparingly-used utility infielder for the first month and a half of 2013. From wanting Martin Perez and Luke Jackson, to settling on Leury Garcia. I don’t get it.

I’m having a hard time reasoning with myself why Haun didn’t just pocket Rios until the offseason — where assuredly he’d fetch a higher return than Leury — or why they didn’t just take the best offer that was on the table on July 31st, which, again, had to be better than a light-hitting middle infield prospect. It just had to be.

But c’est la vie, if it’s a coup for the Rangers then why should I care?

Alex Rios is under contract for the remainder of 2013 (where he’ll be due ~$3 million) and 2014 ($12.5 million), and has a $13.5 million option for 2015 (which originally included a $1 million buyout, however, per his contract, is now worth $1.5 million due to the trade).

In simple terms, the Rangers total investment in Rios — taking into account the $1 million from CHW in salary relief — will either be for $16 million through 2014, or $28 million through 2015.

Essentially, he will need to be a +2.0-2.5 Win player to justify the terms of his contract.

Alex Rios had a brilliant three-year run with Toronto between 2006-2008, producing +13.9 fWAR while being proficient at all three phases of the game, as defined by his mean averages offensively (117 wRC+), defensively (+13.2 UZR), and on the bases (+5.1 BsR).

Since then, Rios has been an enigma, seemingly fluctuating between solid and (below) replacement-level, shown by his Wins Above Replacement outputs since 2009 (per FanGraphs):

0.0, +3.4, -1.1, +4.2

In 2013, he’s been decent. He brings with him a league-average .277/.328/.421 (102 wRC+) triple slash line, though he has swiped 26 bases and his defense is generally regarded as better-than-average-to-plus. He has 8 outfield assists this season.

From my shoes, I’m not entirely jazzed about Alex Rios the baseball player, but from the perspective of the front office acquiring assets without losing much in return, I’m thrilled. Jon Daniels will be paying, fiscally, a premium for what could very well be nothing more than an average Major League outfielder, but Leury Garcia had no future here.

What JD is gambling on, I surmise, is the Beta — or ceiling — Rios theoretically provides. As a human being, intrinsically there’s a different level of motivation playing for a dormant, last place team than there is on one competing for an American League pennant. That is, of course, assuming said player doesn’t have a personal vendetta against said first place team and wishes nothing but pain and suffering for its fan base.

But so it is. If Alex Rios only turns out to be a +1.0- or +2.0-Win player between now and whenever the Rangers decide they are done with him, I don’t imagine many people will be losing sleep. But Rios has shown in the past that he can be a productive, middle-of-the-order bat, with the upside to be an impact force.

I won’t bank on it, but I’m not going to be surprised to see it happen.

I think he’ll like it here.

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  • Brandon Land

    Another thing is, from the perspective of the Rangers, they have a logjam of infield talent as it is, and whether Leury projected to be a quality Major League infielder or a utility player, he would have ended up being an afterthought to guys like Profar, Odor, and Sardinas. When I first saw that the Rangers had made a deal today, I was dreading that something terrible had happened, but then I saw the news, and I couldn’t help but feel the same way you do. Texas stole the outfield bat they coveted.

    • Eric Reining

      Sardinas and Odor are more valuable than Rios, but if you flipped front offices, there’s no way Daniels would have let Rios go for anything less than either of them. Especially considering, as you said, all the infielders the Rangers have without any place to put them.

    • Eric Reining

      Also, I think all Jon Daniels’ eggs are going into David Price this offseason. Sardinas and Odor, possibly Luke Jackson, and names like Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and the Hickory boys (sans Alfaro) should all be on the table.

      • Brandon Land

        This actually wouldn’t surprise me much. It would give the Rangers one of the best (if not the best) rotations in baseball.

        • Andy

          And they’re already in that conversation…top 5 for sure.

      • Andy

        Assuming Garza doesn’t keep giving up 4 runs a game, I think he makes some effort to sign him. Price will be ridiculously expensive. Ridiculously.

        • Eric Reining

          JD will either be giving up money (for Garza) or prospects (for Price), but not both.

          Have to keep one end open, I’d think.

          • Andy

            Yes, that’s what I’d expect – not both. I think they try Garza first, unless he sucks the rest of the year.

      • primi_timpano

        I hope Prices trade cost does not include Perez. I think he has a bright pitching future and the Rangers have not attracted FA pitchers.

        Re Rios, AJP was interviewed about the trade and said JD asked him about Rios before the trade and AJP gave Rios an enthusiastic and unqualified endorsement as to talent and his clubhouse demeanor. There could be some upside to Rios generated by the pennant race and the clubhouse.

    • delashmit

      I was afraid that the Rangers did something stupid until I learned that the player to be named later was Garcia. Great deal for Texas. Now if we can just get Berkman to disappear.

      • Robert

        Same here. When I saw the headline I thought for sure Odor, Sardinas, or Jackson was gone because those were the guys they wanted in July. I feel those 3 Prospect won’t be here next year, but I’m glad we’re saving them for a potential blockbuster in the off season instead of a last minute waiver deal.

        As for Berkman, I think he’s done after this season. I think it would be amazing if Cruz wanted to come back as our DH and back up right field. Rangers I’m sure would go for it, but Cruz may decide to go elsewhere to continue playing right everyday.

        • delashmit

          I was scared when I heard the news. I think Garcia has some abilities but he would never be a regular here. This was a “no brainer ” for Daniels to get Rios for Garcia and surprise they got money also. Rios is signed for next year and has an option for 2015.

        • delashmit

          I wish Berkman would just pack his bags and leave. He is of no use. I did not support signing him in the first place but he surprised me with his start to the season. Before he got injured, he reverted back to what I thought he was (FINISHED). Berkman and Roy Oswalt should both “go sit in a corner and pout together.” Please do not sign any more Over The Hill Ex Astros.”

  • Andy

    I like this trade a lot.

    Butler had a great night, and I’d like to see him get another shot soon. But I suppose it’s most likely that he’ll be sent down for Rios, and obviously, we can’t expect either of them to put up the offense Cruz did. But Rios would likely come closer, and we can expect some good defense and baserunning out of him. Let’s hope that’s enough. It just might be.

  • Jarrett Lidell

    You used Beta incorrectly. Alpha is much more appropriate

    • primi_timpano

      Please elaborate. My use of these terms is financial, and neither term in a baseball context seems strongly analogous to the financial definitions.

      • Jarrett Lidell

        Probably saying adding Rios adds additional fwar alpha to the Rangers total production or you could break it down on a position production basis

        • primi_timpano

          Thx. Much appreciated.

  • delashmit

    Yes, the rangers took the White Sox to the outhouse. A real steal if Rios does anything at all for the Rangers.

  • Robert

    Giving up only a middle infielder (who would never have a chance at cracking the starting gig here) for a solid right fielder, yeah I would take that risk. We pretty much got him for free (minus taking on his contract). Sure there are other guys I would have loved instead, but you can’t get people that are not available. I like the trade, it was very one sided in our favor and if Cruz is willing to resign as DH next year that would be awesome to have a real power DH instead of a rotational thing or plugging in old guys looking for that last gig before they retire.

    Also, if by some miracle Wash realizes how awesome Gentry is and we could see more of him and less of Murphy that would be awesome too.

    • delashmit

      I think Cruz will be back next year as DH and part time right field. I am not sure that Murphy will be back.

  • JimBouton

    If you like speed and defense, then it is easy to like getting Alex. Andrus, Martin, and Rios account for 82 stolen bases this season. That ain’t too shabby.

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