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2013 MLB Trade Deadline: Outfielder Alex Rios In Demand

Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios
Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios

May 16, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios (51) runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios isn’t the biggest name in baseball. Heck, with players like Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Jake Peavy on the White Sox, he’s not even one of the biggest names on his own team. Still, when it comes to outfielders who are available for a trade deadline deal, Rios is near the top of the list. Ironically there’s no guarantee Rios even gets dealt.

The biggest caveat to a potential deal is his sizable salary for 2014. He’s due $12.5 million next season and while he’s a solid outfielder, that’s probably a bit more than he’s truly worth. Rios also has a $13.5 million option for 2015, but teams can get out of that for a relatively inexpensive $1 million buyout. Still, picking up Rios represents a significant investment.

Rios had a career year in 2012 with 25 home runs, 91 RBI, and a .304 batting average, but is well off that pace right now. His 2013 numbers of 11 home runs, 40 RBI, and .270 batting average are good, but not quite $12.5 million good.

Rios’ defense helps make up for his that a bit, though. Playing full time in 2010 and 2011, the outfielder committed a total of only eight errors. Each season, he ranked among the outfielders with the fewest in the league. Last year, he had a bit more (seven), but his two in 2013 again place him among the league’s elite defensive outfielders. Rios’ eight outfield assists also lead all right fielders in the American League and his .990 fielding percentage is second.

While his salary is a bit of a hindrance, if a team needs help badly enough, it won’t prevent him from finding a new home. $12.5 million is a significant amount of money for 2014, but even if he’s not fully worth that amount, he’s an above average outfielder. So despite the financial aspect, it’s easy to see why teams are interested in the veteran.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, long rumored to be in search of an outfielder, are one club that’s interested. The solid hitting of Jose Tabata might make Pittsburgh’s need for an outfielder a little less desperate, but the Pirates could still use a player with more power than he can provide. However, Pittsburgh also has their eye on Nate Schierholtz, and while not as proven, he’s a far more affordable option.

But if the Bucs want him, they’ll have other competition. ESPNChicago reports that the Rangers, Giants, and Diamondbacks are all interested, too. How interested they are remains to be seen, but all of those teams make a good deal of sense. Rios would be an upgrade over corner outfielders in Texas and San Francisco – specifically, he’s a better option than Daniel Murphy (Rangers) or Andres Torres (Giants). But it’s really the Diamondbacks that could use him as he instantly would become the best outfielder on their roster.

Unfortunately for Arizona, Rios can block trades to six teams and the Diamondbacks are one of them. That’s not to say he wouldn’t go there, but if they’re on his no-trade list, it’s for a reason.

If I had to take an educated guess, it’d be that Rios gets dealt with a reasonable offer. The White Sox really have no reason to hold onto him – especially when they appear on the verge of a fire sale. After all, what’s the use in paying a single player that much during a rebuilding phase?

There’s no guarantee that Chicago deals Rios, but after a solid first half, you can expect the White Sox to field at least a few calls regarding their outfielder.

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