Rangers acquire Rios from White Sox
Veteran, who will be Texas' everyday right fielder, slated to join club over weekend
HOUSTON -- The Rangers have finally landed the right-handed bat they were looking for, acquiring outfielder Alex Rios from the White Sox for a player to be named later.
The player is expected to be infielder Leury Garcia, who is on the 40-man roster and can't be traded without going through waivers. The Rangers also get $1 million in cash in the deal. Rios will bat sixth in the lineup and be Texas' regular right fielder with Nelson Cruz serving his 50-game suspension.
"He's a quality baseball player," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We like players that play both sides of the ball, and Alex brings that to the table. He runs the bases, he plays defense [and he] can throw. He's just a good fit for us. We've had interest in him prior to learning about Nelson's suspension, and [we] continued to have interest in him and were able to work out a deal. We're happy about that."
Rios is signed through next season at $12.5 million, with a club option for 2015 at $13.5 million. With Cruz and David Murphy both becoming free agents after the season, the Rangers have at least filled one of their corner outfield spots for '14.
"It certainly adds a layer to it for us," Daniels said. "Not only does he help us this year, but we've got some guys that are going to be free agents after the season -- corner-producing run players -- and it certainly fits the bill for us going forward as well."
Rios is expected to join the Rangers either Saturday or Sunday in Houston. Texas will have to make a roster move at that time, sending either Joey Butler or Engel Beltre back to Triple-A Round Rock.
The Rangers tried to acquire Rios before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but were unsuccessful. They were awarded the claim this week when the White Sox put him on waivers, and the organizations worked out a deal 10 minutes before Friday's deadline.
"I believe it's going to be refreshing for myself," Rios said. "I'm going to go to a team that is fighting for a playoff spot. ... I believe they are hoping to win their division and go to the playoffs, so let's see what happens."
Rios, 32, was hitting .277 with 12 home runs, 55 RBIs and 26 stolen bases for the White Sox. He had a .328 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage. Rios is tied for sixth in the American League in stolen bases and his eight outfield assists are tied for fifth. He is riding a nine-game hitting streak.
"He's a complete player -- solid outfielder, tremendous baserunning -- and he just gives us completeness," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I think that's what we needed. I think Jon and his group need to be commended tremendously for getting this done for us. For a minute there, we weren't so sure the way things were going, but he always comes through for us, and he did it again this time.
"I don't think the void that Nelson left can be filled. Rios is a solid baseball player, and we just want him to come up here and play his game. He fits in well. He fits in extremely well."
Rios set career highs last season with a .304 batting average, 25 home runs and 91 RBIs. His 162 game averages over his 10-year career are a .278 batting average, 36 doubles, six triples, 18 home runs, 79 RBIs, 25 stolen bases, 41 walks and 107 strikeouts.
Rios was originally the Blue Jays' first pick (19th overall) in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft out of Puerto Rico. He was a two-time All-Star with the Blue Jays, but this is the second time he has been moved during a season. The White Sox claimed Rios off waivers from the Blue Jays on Aug. 10, 2009.
"You know what, with the situation that we were in, it wasn't too much of a surprise," Rios said. "They were trying to get rid of salary or whatever they wanted to do. I think many people expected this to happen. You know what? It's all good."
Rios said he is glad that all the trade speculation is finally over.
"It was a little bit of a distraction with all that was going on," Rios said. "Now that it happened, I'm going to be able to focus on what I have to do, and that would be playing good baseball."
Acquiring Rios made it seem unlikely that the Rangers would re-sign Cruz, but that's not necessarily the case, according to Daniels.
"We'll make a decision about [Cruz's] potential return to the club at the appropriate time, and that's not now," Daniels said. "Right now, we're focused on putting the best club out there that we can. It's an unrelated situation."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.