Alex Rios signed a seven-year, $70 million extension with the Blue Jays just 13 months ago, but on Monday afternoon general manager J.P. Ricciardi decided to simply dump the remainder of that contract on the White Sox when they put in a waiver claim for the 28-year-old. “This allows us to get out from under a contract and enables us to do more to address our club going forward,” Ricciardi said.
Rios is a career .285/.335/.451 hitter who’s at just .264/.317/.427 this year, so it’s tough to blame Ricciardi for not wanting to pay him an average of $12 million per season through 2014. However, Rios’ great glove and baserunning mean that his value goes far beyond production at the plate and if he returns to pre-2009 levels the White Sox will gladly pay that to replace impending free agent Jermaine Dye.
For now though Dye remains the starting right fielder and Carlos Quentin is fixed in left field, so most of Rios’ playing time figures to come at the expense of Scott Podsednik in center field. Calling the White Sox’s power-boosting ballpark home gives Rios a much improved chance of finally cracking 25 homers at some point, but in the short term a crowded outfield could take a chunk out of his value.
While the Blue Jays shed payroll and the White Sox add an underrated outfielder in his prime, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Just when an eight-game winning streak finally had the Nationals headed in the right direction, the team received bad news during Monday’s off day. Dr. James Andrews has recommended Tommy John elbow surgery for Jordan Zimmermann after reviewing his MRI exam. Zimmermann may seek a second opinion, but the 23-year-old right-hander is done for the season and figures to go under the knife.
Zimmermann looked extremely promising before suffering the injury around three weeks ago, posting a 4.63 ERA and 92/29 K/BB ratio in 91.1 innings spread over 16 starts after basically skipping Triple-A. With a bit more seasoning and a better defense behind him Zimmermann looked like a possible ace and he may still get there, but it likely won’t be until at least 2011.
* Chris Young certainly earned a demotion to Triple-A by hitting .194/.297/.359 in 103 games, but it was still surprising to see the Diamondbacks actually make the move Monday. His sub-.200 batting average shouldn’t shock anyone after Young hit .237 as a rookie and .248 last season, but just seven homers in 315 at-bats stands out after he showed about twice that much power coming into the year.
Young will likely be back once rosters expand in September and remains part of the long-term plans, so he may be a bargain in NL-only leagues next year. In the meantime Arizona added Rusty Ryal to play some second base, Ryan Roberts is likely to see time in left field along with Trent Oeltjen, and Gerardo Parra is the everyday center fielder. Ryal has a cool name and 20-homer pop, but little else.
* Pedro Martinez will join the Phillies’ rotation Wednesday against the Cubs, with Charlie Manuel announcing that Jamie Moyer and his 5.47 ERA will be moved to the bullpen. Previously the Phillies said that Moyer wasn’t a relief option, but J.A. Happ has simply been too good to pull from the rotation and Martinez striking out 11 in his third rehab start apparently convinced the team that he’s an upgrade.
AL Quick Hits: Justin Duchscherer (elbow) had an encouraging first rehab outing Sunday at Triple-A, throwing 55 pitches … Jacoby Ellsbury topped last season’s total with his 51st stolen base of the year Monday … Torii Hunter (groin) is set to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Single-A … Gil Meche (back) is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday against the Twins … Magglio Ordonez had three extra-base hits Monday and is batting over .400 this month … Joe Maddon speculated Monday that Troy Percival will retire rather than come back from his latest injuries … Tim Wakefield (calf) tossed a simulated game Monday, but had to take three rests during the 51 pitches … Edwin Jackson needed 104 pitches to complete four innings Monday versus the Red Sox, allowing four runs … Mark Grudzielanek was released by Minnesota after the 39-year-old veteran struggled in eight games at Double-A.
NL Quick Hits: Johnny Cueto left Monday’s start after suffering a hip flexor hitting in the third inning … Billy Wagner (elbow) threw his fifth straight scoreless inning while rehabbing Monday at Single-A … Chad Billingsley (hamstring) is unlikely to make his scheduled start Wednesday … Leo Nunez notched his 12th save after Matt Lindstrom struggled with a five-run lead Monday … Aaron Cook (toe) is now on track to start Friday against the Marlins … Tom Gorzelanny headed for X-rays after being hit on the foot Monday, but gave up six runs in 1.1 innings first … Tim Hudson (elbow) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A … Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang have both cleared waivers … Former second overall pick Greg Reynolds has been shut down with shoulder problems that surfaced in April … LaTroy Hawkins (shingles) reported no issues after Monday’s simulated game … Troy Tulowitzki had a monster game Monday, hitting for the cycle while knocking in seven runs, and is slugging over .600 since June 1.