With a pair of high-priced acquisitions, first trading for injured Padres ace and former Cy Young winner
On July 23,
Like the Peavy trade, the Rios acquisition involves taking on a significant long-term contract -- in this case the remainder of the almost $70 million deal he signed early in the 2008 season -- but unlike the Peavy trade, the White Sox commitment ends right there. Not a single player, neither off the major league roster nor a minor league prospect, is going back to Toronto in the deal. That speaks to just how ready the Blue Jays were to be free of Rios' underperforming bat (his .264/.317/.427 line is a notable dropoff from his .291/.337/.461 mark of a year ago, which was itself a steep decline from 2007), his massive contract and his behavior, which had worn thin in Toronto -- especially after a confrontation with his cursing out a fan was posted on YouTube earlier this season.
The risk comes entirely in taking on a humongous contract with uncertain return on that investment. Rios' youth is enticing and his talent tantalizing, which explains why the White Sox would commit themselves to a player with declining numbers and escalating salaries for each of the next five seasons, plus a club option in 2015. Rios will make $9.7 million next year, $12 million in 2011 and 2012 and $12.5 million in 2013 and 2014. For that kind of money, the White Sox are not looking for simply a hired gun to give them a boost this year, but rather a fixture in the outfield the foreseeable future.
With Gold Glover
Since winning the World Series in 2005 and sending
This year no fewer than three players have taken turns trying to win the job. Anderson batted .238 before being traded, Podsednik was brought back after being out of baseball entirely this spring but has played twice as often in left field (filling in for
If nothing else, Rios will be an instant upgrade in center and solidify the position for years to come if that's where the Sox choose to keep him, but it is unclear just what else he's giving the White Sox. Scouts have raved for years about his talent and potential, but while his contract is kicking in to cover the prime years of his career, his talent may not be. It won't take much for him to be better than his immediate predecessors. White Sox center fielders rank last in the American League and 29th in all of baseball with a .224 average, .281 on-base percentage and .309 slugging percentage and have hit just three home runs this season.
His arrival means fewer at-bats for someone, likely either Podsednik or Quentin, who has batted just .239 with three home runs since returning from a foot injury but was a leading AL MVP candidate a year ago before a broken wrist ended his season in early September. Dye and
It is certain that Rios will play. Whether he plays well and long enough to justify such a massive infusion of payroll is far from certain.