Jays give away Rios, White Sox take advantage

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<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.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.