Mr. Ricciardi, you drive a hard bargain. You traded away your team’s best position player and in return you get…nothing! The scene from Dumb and Dumber keeps popping into my head where Lloyd proudly breaks the news to Harry that he traded the van for a moped. “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!” At least Lloyd got a moped, and Rios is hardly an ’84 Sheepdog. This is just so completely absurd.
Dave Cameron already has enlightened us as to why the $60 million remaining on Alex Rios contract hardly makes it a bad contract, but I’ll recap it quickly. Rios currently has a .329 wOBA, low for his standards and likely driven by bad luck. His batting average on balls in play is currently way below his career average. There’s just nothing in his peripheral stats to suggest that he’s fallen apart. Rios is a prime candidate to bounce back. His ZiPS projection calls for a .351 wOBA going forward.
Rios is having a down year defensively according to UZR (-.7) but in the last three seasons in right field he’s been one of the best defensive outfielders in the game – +15.5 last season, +9 the two seasons prior to that. The Fielding Bible also gives him high marks — +43 plays over the last three years, the 3rd highest total for right fielders behind Franklin Gutierrez and Randy Winn. He has been good to superb in right field, so I think it’s safe to say Rios will at least be average patrolling center in the Cell. His most similar fielders in the Scouting Report by the Fans is littered with center fielders.
White Sox center fielders have been the definition of replacement level with their combined .269 wOBA, so Rios probably adds a full win to the White Sox down the stretch, increasing their odds of making the playoffs while not costing them a prospect. The South Siders have roughly $35 million coming off the books this fall, so Williams has done his holiday shopping early with the additions of Peavy and Rios, while helping his chances now. There’s some gambling going on here taking on these large contracts, but Rios is a much safer bet than Peavy.
Ricciardi has to have sealed his fate by now. He’s handed out several bad contracts during his tenure and then admits he made a mistake by giving away the one contract that’s actually fair value. And he bases his admission to this “mistake” on a few months of flukiness. You can’t run a fantasy team like this and win, let alone a major league team. Rios and his contract is much more of a cornerstone than it is an albatross.