The Royals have been rumored to be asking around for right-fielders with Nori Aoki's disappointing performance this year and the club's lack of faith in Jarrod Dyson's ability to be an every-day player. With the Texas Rangers said to be listening to all offers for veterans, one such right-fielder that could be a potential fit in a trade is Alex Rios.
Rios, 33, is a right-handed hitter who has had a very up-and-down career. He was a two-time All-Star in Toronto, and signed a huge 7 year $70 million deal early in his career, but cratered the next year and was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox. Rios bounced back in Chicago, and was dealt to Texas last summer.
In 2013, Rios hit .278/.324/.432 with 18 HR 81 RBI a career high 42 steals and 2.0 rWAR. This year, in 316 plate appeareances, he is hitting .312/.345/.451 with 3 HR 31 RBI and 0.4 rWAR. For his career, he's a .280/.325/.443 hitter with average defense, although he has become a bit of a defensive liability late in his career.
Adam Morris at Lone Star Ball has the scouting report on Alex Rios:
Alex Rios is an interesting player, an enigma, a guy who seems to be surprisingly good while also being, in some ways, somewhat disappointing. He looks like the Platonic Form of an outfielder -- he just LOOKS the part of an athletic five-tool guy. He doesn't have any real glaring weaknesses in his game, he hits for power, and he's got speed (although, for whatever reason, he's been an awful percentage basestealer this year). He's a guy who is a solid starting right fielder on a championship team...
However...there's a reason that the Rangers got Rios for nothing more than Leury Garcia, a prospect who profiles as nothing more than a utility infielder, at the deadline last year, with the White Sox kicking in $1 million as part of the deal to boot....He's been, throughout the course of his career, maddeningly inconsistent, mixing in sub-replacement-level campaigns with All Star caliber seasons. There's always the fear that he's suddenly going to go back to being a 600 OPS guy out of the blue.
One of the writers for the Dallas Morning News calls him a "one gait player," someone who only has one speed, which is less than full speed, and says that scouts question his effort level. He's also not someone who seems to have good situational awareness -- he's a likely candidate to miss the cutoff man at the wrong time, or get thrown out going to third with two outs. I think the perception is that he's less valuable than the stats would indicate. Its hard to get a read on what the Rangers are going to do with Rios this summer.
Rios is nearing the end of that massive seven-year contract, and is owed about $7 million for the remainder of this season, with a $13.5 million club option and $1 million buyout for 2015. While Dayton Moore has said that the Glass family will let him raise payroll to be competitive this summer, this will be on the high end of what they would be wiling to spend, if not over and beyond their limits.
What would the Rangers be looking in return for Rios? Morris continues:
The Rangers are looking to contend in 2015, rather than go into rebuild mode, and so the option makes him more attractive than he would be to a "tear it down" club. That would also seem to suggest that the Rangers would prefer major-league-ready young talent if they were to deal Rios; however, the front office's m.o. has been to focus more on acquiring talent when acquiring minor league players, rather than forcing a perceived fit, so it wouldn't be out of character at all for Texas to look for high-ceiling A-ball players for Rios, rather than take a lesser player who is ready now.
The Royals have little in the way of Major League-ready talent, but it strikes me that with the Rangers farm system being so deep, they will take the best upside talent they can get. That may mean a high-ceiling A ball player, although the value of such a player will depend on how much salary, if any, the Rangers are willing to eat. A player like Miguel Almonte could be in play, as well as the Royals' competitive balance draft pick for 2015, should the Royals be awarded one (we'll find out in a few weeks) or a high-ceiling, lower tier prospect (Elier Hernandez? Samir Duenez?). The Rangers are not in a position where they need to trade Rios, but they may be willing to part with him and give Michael Choice or even Joey Gallo a chance in right next year, if the right deal comes along.