<a href=”http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/32364650/ns/sports-player_news/”>Score another one for Kenny Williams</a>. It almost never happens that players as talented Alex Rios can be acquired without surrendering anything in return. The White Sox didn’t even have to outbid 29 teams or surrender a draft pick. In Rios, they brought in a player who is about to start getting expensive, but one who figures to age well and live up to his contract.
The Jays can point to the fact that Rios’ numbers have dipped in an effort to justify the move, and it is entirely possible that his OPS will end up declining for a third straight year this season. However, Rios is more than just his OPS. He’s a legitimate center fielder who had no business being shoved to a corner for a declining Vernon Wells. He’s a very durable player whose only DL stint in six years as a major leaguer came about because of an infected leg. He’s an excellent basestealer, succeeding on 82 percent of his attempts over the last three years.
Rios will make $9.7 million next year and then $49 million over the following four years, so it’s not a move without risk for the White Sox. Still, his durability and defensive value makes a collapse very unlikely. Even if he wanders aimlessly and never lives up to his potential, his athleticism should guarantee that he’s something close to an average regular. It’s more likely that he’ll have a couple of All-Star campaigns in Chicago and prove to be a modest bargain.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, free up $9.7 million next year to spend as they see fit. A lot of it could go towards re-signing Marco Scutaro, who is five years older than Rios. Those absent $12 million-$12.5 million salaries in 2011 and beyond might just help the Jays keep Roy Halladay. Or Rios’ absence could help drive Halladay away when the team goes on to finish in fourth or maybe even fifth place next year. The Jays simply don’t have any Rios replacements on the way. While the farm system has been productive, it’s been developing pitchers and unathletic hitters. The Jays’ defense, already considerably worse without Scott Rolen, just took another major hit.
As did the franchise as a whole. Rios never would have been sacrificed if the Jays still weren’t paying for the awful Wells and B.J. Ryan contracts. It’s understandable that fans were frustrated with Rios and some might even be glad to see him gone. Still, at best this move will help Rogers Corporation. With or without Halladay, the Jays wouldn’t seem to have any October baseball in their future.
On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.
Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:
“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”
“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”
“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”
Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.
Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.
Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.
Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.