As the New York Yankees get set to begin a three-game series in Arlington against the Texas Rangers, general manager Brian Cashman and Yankees officials will likely have a close eye on Rangers right fielder Alex Rios.
At 41-64, Texas has already established itself as “sellers” as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches by moving closer Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers and reliever Jason Frasor to the Kansas City Royals.
According to multiple reports, the Rangers are not done and are open to moving Rios. It appears the Yankees are interested (and why wouldn’t they be?) in the two-time All-Star outfielder. FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal recently tweeted that the Yanks are among four teams to have checked in on Rios.
Though his power is down, Rios is currently hitting .299 (which would easily lead the Yankees) with 16 stolen bases, 42 runs scored, 43 RBIs and an American League-leading eight triples for the Rangers this season. The 33-year-old also is a strong defender with a plus-arm in right field, and he is only signed through the end of this year with a team option of $13.5 million or $1 million buyout for 2015.
Right now, the Yankees are starting 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki every day in right field with Carlos Beltran unable to play defense. While he’s done a respectable job for New York this season, the team would be better served with him as a fourth outfielder off the bench. It’s obvious Rios would be a boost to the Yankees, but there are unfortunately major road blocks.
The first question is, what would the Yankees give up? The Rangers are going to need somebody to play right field next season, and the Yankees don’t have any attractive outfielders in the Minors that are big league-ready for either the rest of this season or next year.
Sure, the Yankees have some intriguing prospects such as pitcher Luis Severino, rated the Yankees’ top prospect on MLB.com’s latest rankings, catcher Gary Sanchez and power-hitting outfielder Aaron Judge, but Cashman should not give up one of those big names for a rental who would be a help, but really is not a major upgrade. Rosenthal reports that there is also another larger hurdle to a potential deal between the Yankees and Rangers:
While it’s not clear why the Yanks are on this six-team list, as Rios could have other motives, it would be surprising if Rios wouldn’t waive this clause to come to a team in a playoff race like the Yankees or Oakland Athletics. But again, he may just not be comfortable coming to the Yankees, and a deal could be blocked even if the Rangers and Yankees do come to an agreement.
Cashman could get to work on Rangers GM Jon Daniels and sell him on some lower level prospects along with maybe someone like Zoilo Almonte or Zelous Wheeler, but a lot depends on the rest of the market for Rios as other teams may have better pieces to offer Texas.
Rios is a fit in pinstripes for the rest of the year and would be a clear boost to a team that needs one, but there are many hurdles to clear in the next few days for that to become a reality.