Rios trade adds bat, stability to Ranger lineup

Rios trade adds bat, stability to Ranger lineup

Credit: Getty Images

Alejandro De Aza #30 celebrates with Alex Rios #51 of the Chicago White Sox after both scored on a double by Adam Dunn #32 during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 30, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.

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by LANDON HAAF

WFAA Sports

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 9 at 6:10 PM

The Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox Friday after claiming him off waivers.

According to an ESPN Dallas report, the Rangers will send either a player to be named later or cash considerations to Chicago in exchange for Rios. The White Sox will contribute $1 million to Rios’s contract.

The Rios trade answers the looming question in Texas: what would the Rangers do to replace Nelson Cruz in the wake of his 50-game Biogenesis suspension?

Rios, 32, was also a target before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, as the need for a middle-of-the-lineup bat existed before the loss of Cruz.

One has to applaud the patience of GM Jon Daniels and the Rangers’ front office. The right deal wasn’t on the table in July, so they waited.

And patience was a virtue.

Friday’s trade comes 18 days after the Rangers acquired Matt Garza from the White Sox’ West Side Chicago counterpart. And the Garza trade likely turned more heads on July 22 than the Rios trade did Friday.

Garza is an ace-caliber pitcher that came to Texas throwing the ball as well as anyone in Major League Baseball, and, at the time, shored up a staff plagued by injury.

Rios is batting .277 with 12 HR and 55 RBI in 2013. So he doesn’t completely fill the run production void left by Cruz’s departure from the lineup.

But what Rios brings to this Ranger club is something that teams don’t often gain in a late-season move: A sense of stability.

Rios is a career .278 hitter who has averaged 19 home runs and 73 RBI in his last four full seasons, despite a down year in 2011. And, he is under contract through 2014, with a club option for 2015. Meaning the Rangers don’t have to worry re-signing him in the offseason.

While Garza was a great addition to a pitching staff that seems to have found its groove, there is uncertainty that accompanies that move.

Garza has landed on the disabled list each of the last three years, including a six-week stint on the DL to start 2013. The right-hander also is only under contract through this season.

So, with Garza, the Rangers got a great arm, but a great deal of questions: Can they re-sign him? If so, for how much cash? Is he too much of an injury risk to make a long-term investment on?

They also gave up five players for Garza.

Those concerns don’t exist in the Rios trade. The “player to be named” in Friday's deal is reportedly Leury Garcia. And that’s where the list ends.  

A few things would likely prevent Garcia, a middle infielder, from making an impact in Texas: Elvis Andrus (signed an eight-year extension in 2013), Ian Kinsler (on contract through 2017), and the youthful likes of Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor.

So at a relatively small investment, the Rangers receive a two-time All-Star in Rios who satisfies immediate and future needs. He is also a player who should add consistent production at the plate and provide protection for the middle of the Ranger order.

Rios’s stats don’t jump off of the page, and he likely won’t step into the Ranger lineup and be the top power hitter.

But for those who were in the “Giancarlo Stanton or bust” mindset at the trade deadline, worry not. Alex Rios is a solid player who is excited about the opportunity to play for a contender.

Of the two major deadline moves the Rangers made, the Rios deal is the closest thing to a sure bet.

He fills the need for a bat. He replaces Nelson Cruz right now, and possibly in the future, should Cruz not be brought back to Texas. Because Rios will be here in 2014.

As of Friday, Rios had played in 109 of Chicago’s 112 games in 2013. He is owed the remainder of a $12 million contract this season, and $13 million next season. The Rangers have the option for a $2 million buyout in 2015.

In the middle of a pennant race, and facing an offseason filled with questions, the stability provided by Rios is reassuring.

For continued Rangers news, download WFAA’s “Baseball Texas” mobile app, and follow along on Twitter (@BaseballTX) and Instagram (BaseballTX).

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