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Numbers Game: Rangers reel in rightfielder Rios

Scott Cullen
8/9/2013 9:43:41 PM
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Needing to fill a hole created by suspension, the Texas Rangers secured a deal for a veteran outfielder who should fit the bill.

Numbers Game breaks down the Rangers' deal for Alex Rios.

The Rangers Get: RF Alex Rios.

Rios, 32, is a veteran outfielder in the midst of a mediocre season, but he's capable of providing power and speed. Since the start of the 2010 season, Rios is one of six outfielders (B.J. Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp are the others) to register at least 70 home runs and 70 stolen bases. His .755 OPS in that time ranks 59th among outfielders with at least 1000 plate appearances.

This season, Rios isn't going deep as often as he has in previous years, hitting 12 home runs in 465 plate appearances, and his flyball rate (34.8%) is his lowest since 2005, when he was in his second major league season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

While moving to Texas ought to help a hitter's production, Rios has struggled to this point in his career at Rangers Ballpark, hitting one home run, with a .255 batting average and .643 OPS in 42 games (177 plate appearances); his lowest OPS at the 11 ballparks in which he's had at least 175 plate appearances.

Not only is Rios durable, having played in at least 145 games for each of the last six season, but Rios is an above average defensive right fielder, so he is a more-than-capable replacement for suspended Rangers RF Nelson Cruz, who is also set to become a free agent at season's end.

Not only does Rios add immediate help at a position of need for the Rangers, but he's signed through next season, at the same $12.5-million salary that he's making in 2013, with a $13.5-million team option for 2015. While those salary numbers seem big, they're pretty much standard for an above average outfielder in his free agent years.

A four-game winning streak has the Rangers tied with Oakland for first place in the American League West, making it well worth it to push forward in their quest to win this year, with a move that should improve their outfield production at least through next season as well.

The White Sox Get: A player to be named later, reportedly INF Leury Garcia, and $1-million.

Garcia is a 22-year-old, diminutive infielder who has played second, third and shortstop this season, but he offers very little at the plate, hitting .192 with a .467 OPS in 25 games. He hasn't hit much in the minors, either, with a .264 average and .723 OPS at Triple-A this season, but he can run, stealing 43 bases on 54 attempts (79.6%) in 147 games between Double-A and Triple-A since the start of 2012.

With that pedigree, Garcia is little more than a utility infielder for the White Sox, so the real benefit of trading Rios, aside from financial savings, is that it opens up a regular spot in right field for Avisail Garcia, the free-swinging power hitter acquired from Detroit in the three-way Jake Peavy trade made prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Moving out Rios, their highest fWAR player (2.1) this season, naturally doesn't make the White Sox a better team, but it acknowledges their current situation. They need young players to get reps and it's highly unlikely that the White Sox are going to be poised to contend for a playoff spot as soon as next season, or even the season after, making Rios little more than a roadblock for a prospect like Avisail Garcia.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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