<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.
From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Orioles “like” free agent starter Yovani Gallardo and “have reached out to him” to gauge his interest in coming to Baltimore and what that might cost.
Gallardo rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Rangers earlier this month and so his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation, but that shouldn’t hurt his bottom line all that much.
The 29-year-old right-hander posted a solid 3.42 ERA in 184 1/3 innings (33 starts) this past season for Texas and he pitched well in his one ALDS start.
Heyman reported a few weeks ago that the Diamondbacks are interested, and the Cubs, Blue Jays, and Dodgers were tied to him just ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
David Price has expressed a desire to return to Toronto, where he finished out the 2015 season, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes Wednesday that the Blue Jays “are not expected to be a major factor in his free agency.”
The teams that should be considered serious suitors, per Rosenthal, are the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Red Sox — all deep-pocketed teams looking to contend in 2016. Money is apparently the issue for the Blue Jays, who are currently owned by Rogers Communications.
Price registered an outstanding 2.45 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, and 225/47 K/BB ratio in 220 1/3 innings (32 starts) this past season between the Tigers and Jays, finishing second in the American League Cy Young Award race behind Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.
The 30-year-old left-hander is probably looking for a six- or seven-year contract worth more than $25 million per season. He is represented by agent Bo McKinnis.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.
Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.
“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”
The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).
Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.
Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.
In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.