The Texas Rangers have been targeting Alex Rios for quite some time, but were unable to strike a deal for the outfielder before the 2013 MLB trade deadline. However, Texas may get another shot after claiming Rios off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, but the Rangers can’t get itchy trigger fingers.
Since the Rangers claimed Rios off waivers, the White Sox now have three options: make a trade with Texas, hand Rios over to the Rangers without a trade or pull the 32-year-old back and act like it never happened.
It would be great for the Rangers to acquire another bat, especially in right field where there’s a hole left by Nelson Cruz, who was suspended for 50 games in the Biogenesis clinic episode. Rios certainly isn’t going to hit 50 home runs like Cruz was on pace to do this season, but he’s a consistent veteran and the Rangers could certainly use another decent bat for the playoff stretch run and then the postseason itself if Cruz isn’t allowed to return in October.
But considering the fact the Rangers and White Sox weren’t able to make a deal before the trade deadline, there’s little reason to believe an agreement will be made now since Chicago has just one option for a trade. Of course, if Texas really wants Rios, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels will make it happen.
The Rangers were able to hang on to top prospect Jurickson Profar when they made a deal with the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza, but Texas is running out of intriguing prospects to use in trades and Rios isn’t worth nearly what Garza was on the block. Plus, the Rangers are on fire right now with a new outfield rotation of Leonys Martin, David Murphy, Craig Gentry (who’s finally healthy) and Engel Beltre. The latter, a youngster just re-called from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Cruz, is batting .286 in 15 total major-league games this year, so he’s holding his own thus far in relatively limited work as part of the new outfield rotation.
Still, having a proven veteran like Rios would be ideal, especially as injury insurance if Gentry gets hurt again or one of the other three “starting” outfielders goes down. But the Rangers can’t just give up more top prospects unless the return is more than a serviceable guy like Rios. Cruz could be gone at the end of the year as a free agent, so this situation is huge for Texas because Rios is under contract through 2015. That means it’s either him, Murphy or Beltre for the long hall because each of the latter two will require a new contract at the end of the year to stick around for 2014 and beyond. As the crowd-favorite incumbent, Murphy would likely be the one to get a deal if the Rangers decided not to extend both current players and the situation gets stickier if Rios is added to the mix.
So in short, this is a bigger decision for the Rangers than it appears. Stay tuned to see how Texas’ short-term (and possibly long-term) future shapes up over the next 36 hours.