Much is being made of the Texas Rangers‘ recent trade for Matt Garza, which looks like a good deal after the right-hander’s first start in Arlington. However, arguably the most important trade for the Rangers is the one that hasn’t happened yet. Alex Rios is reportedly next on Texas’ wish list, and a deal for the Chicago White Sox‘s outfielder would be ideal for the Rangers.
Rios has been a Texas trade target for quite some time, but CBS Sports reported Wednesday that the Rangers and White Sox are getting closer to a deal to send the 32-year-old to Arlington in light of Ryan Braun‘s recent suspension, which will likely affect Nelson Cruz. If the Rangers’ right fielder receives a 50-game suspension (or worse), Texas will be in a pickle from a hitting standpoint and after trading for Garza, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels isn’t planning to let his team enter the postseason without the best possible chance of winning the World Series.
A trade for Rios would also help in the long-term if Cruz is suspended because the Rangers’ right fielder will be a free agent at the end of the season, so if Texas can land Rios, there would be no pressure to re-sign Cruz. In addition, Cruz’s free agency stock will take a nose dive if suspended, which would allow the Rangers to keep him at a low cost and have Rios as the primary starter in right field.
Even if Cruz isn’t suspended — which is highly unlikely — Rios would help a Texas team that is uncharacteristically struggling at the plate this year. The Rangers are ranked in the bottom half of AL teams in run scored this year and that won’t get the job done in October, regardless of how good Texas’ pitching staff becomes by then. Rios is batting .274 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs this year and he wouldn’t be just a rental considering he has two more years on his contract. Of course, his paperwork also includes a clause that states his annual salaries increase by $500,000 if traded, but the Rangers can afford that if Chicago is willing to make the deal.
Deeper speculation is the possibility of a blockbuster trade that would include one of two White Sox pitchers: Chris Sale or Jake Peavy. Such a deal would almost certainly include Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, but if Rios is the only headliner from Chicago’s end, there’s a chance Texas could land his consistent right-handed bat without giving up Profar.
A trade for Rios would be perfect for a Texas team trying to catch fire heading into the latter part of the season while waiting for the pitching staff to get healthy. After Garza’s sensational arrival, it’s easy to see why the Rangers are looking to bring in more help from the Windy City.