<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
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.