Today, it was announced that the waiver claim that the Chicago White Sox put in to get outifelder Alex Rios went through, and the 28-year-old will join the team for their series in Seattle.
After starting the year off very sluggish, Rios can come around to raise his batting average to .264 and has produced 14 home runs and 62 RBI’s to go with some stellar numbers in the field.
The main issue with the deal involving Rios was his contract situation. Signed before the 2008 season, Rios is set to make up to $77.5 million on a contract extension that has the potential to ride through 2015. Due to the waiver process, the White Sox will pick up all of the nearly $62 million remaining on the contract while the Blue Jays will pay nothing.
For the White Sox, they pick up a 28-year-old right fielder who was desperately looking for a change of scenery. After spending the first five and a half seasons of his career in Toronto, Rios has struggled the past two years to match his numbers from 2007 that warranted his huge contract.
Whether the pressure of the contract became too much for Rios or whether the pitching of the AL East became too much, he was running on borrowed time and a whole lot of money. He will now join a White Sox team where he will not be the focal point batting in the third spot, but rather sharing time with a banged up outfield and getting rest in between starts.
Rios has the capability to play all three outfield spots and chances are he will see action everywhere. In left field, Carlos Quentin has been nicked up all season long and could sure use some days off in between starts. After coming off the disabled list from plantar fascitis, it is now being reported that Quentin has been experiencing pain in his knee.
In center field, Scott Podsednik is enjoying his best year in a starting uniform but is still the least talented of other three outfielders in the equation and will probably see reduced time when Rios enters the lineup.
The biggest question mark is in right field where Jermaine Dye currently sits atop the depth chart. A fan favorite, Dye has been one of the more underrated players in all of baseball this season. To date, he has hit 24 home runs, driven in 67 runs, and has an on-base percentage of .344. His numbers are not through the roof, but he seems to fit perfectly in the Sox lineup.
His contract is up after this season, with a mutual option between Dye and the White Sox for 2010. Before the Rios deal, it wasn’t even a question as to whether that option would be picked up, but now it looks as though the Sox will go with Rios as the future in right.
It’s hard to argue with the move as Rios is a very similar player to Dye with seven less years of wear and tear on him. Letting Dye go after this season will be a tough PR move for the Sox, but with the money they will pay Rios over the next five years, it only makes sense.
Jim Thome is a free agent after this season, but it would not make much sense to let Thome go, keep Dye, and rotate four outfielders between the three outfield spots and designated hitter. Rios will help give Thome days off this season (another reason the trade made sense for the Sox), but doing it on a regular basis would be much too costly.
Other free agents for the White Sox next year include Jose Contreras and Octavio Dotel, and in all the White Sox could dump up to $40 million in salaries after this year. With bring young stars coming up through the system that includes Gordon Beckham, Gavin Floyd, Chris Getz, and John Danks, the Sox were in a good financial situation that they could afford Rios’s contract.
As for now, Rios is another solid bat that will help the White Sox contend for the American League Central race against the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins. The money is a hefty price to pay, but with Dye leaving and Rios a more than solid replacement, the trade made sense for the Sox.
Speaking of money, the Blue Jays dumped a whole lot of it when they basically gave away Rios to the White Sox. When they gave Rios the contract in 2007, they thought the then 26-year-old was coming into stardom and the foundation of the future Blue Jays.
A year and a half later, his salary is finally off the payroll and his memory is all but gone. Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi claims the move was not a complete salary dump, but common sense says it was. All Star Roy Halladay was on the trading block during this trade deadline, as he is expected to make just under $15 million this season and just under $16 million next season.
Toronto started out hot this season but could not compete with the Beasts of the East and went back into rebuilding mode. The future looks brighter as Adam Lind and Aaron Hill are having career years and youngster pitchers Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil look to be in the future plans.
With the money the Jays will save getting rid of Rios, the Jays can now afford to go after a big time free agent next season or lock up Roy Halladay to a long term deal.
The deal also opens up a spot for future star Travis Snider, listed as the Blue Jays top prospect in 2009. He struggled in his first stint with the team this season and was sent back down to AAA Las Vegas where he will get everyday at-bats, but at just 21 years of age, his future looks bright.
Overall, both teams did a nice job securing something for the future in this trade. The White Sox have their future right fielder for the next five or six years while the Blue Jays get much needed cap relief by unloading his contract.