Alex Rios Rumors

AL West Notes: Athletics, Rangers, Astros

After a look at the AL East earlier this morning, let's turn our attention out west …

  • While the Athletics are looking to buttress their 4-game division lead by buying at the deadline, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that the club is finding supply to be limited. "Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year," says GM Billy Beane. Second base and starting pitching are the needs atop Oakland's wish list, team sources tell Hickey. In spite of the rotation's solid performance to date, Hickey says a trade could allow the team to utilize Brett Anderson in a bullpen role when he returns from injury. Citing Beane's apparent willingness to take on some relatively significant salary obligations, Hickey lists Jake Peavy (White Sox), Edinson Volquez (Padres), Bud Norris (Astros), and Kyle Lohse (Brewers) as potential targets.
  • After adding starter Matt Garza, the Rangers are looking at dealing for an outfielder, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. Currently, says Heyman, Alex Rios of the White Sox is the most likely candidate for Texas. Heyman further notes, however, that the club could look to wait out the market in the hopes that players like Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, or the Giants' Hunter Pence become available, with Pence being the most likely among those to change hands. Texas has also considered Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Marlon Byrd of the Mets, and Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins, though Heyman notes that those options would rank below Rios in terms of impact. 
  • The Astros' Mark Appel is the highest-rated player from the recent amateur draft on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's updated Top 100 prospects list. As Mayo explains in his overview of the changes to the list, the top overall choice leads a group of eight recently-drafted players to crack the top 100. Houston is tied with the Red Sox with the most total players to make Mayo's list, with eight apiece. In terms of a simple weighting metric that Mayo calls "Prospect Points," the 'Stros have the most overall prospect value in baseball in high-end prospects, followed closely by the Twins. Though the Astros passed on top overall prospect Byron Buxton in last year's draft, its strategy enabled it to land the players currently checking in at number nine (Carlos Correa) and number sixty-five (Lance McCullers) instead.

Yankees Notes: Soriano, Rios, Young

Earlier today the Yankees officially acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs in exchange for minor league right-hander Corey Black. Here's more on the Yankees…

  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Yankees were the only team to which Soriano would accept a trade (Twitter link).
  • Prior to acquiring Soriano, the Yankees contacted the White Sox to express interest in Alex Rios, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). The Yankees are on Rios' no-trade list and were informed that he would not approve a deal to the Bronx. Rios, however, says he was never approached about accepting a deal to the Yankees, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports.
  • Sherman also tweets that the Yankees have continued to contact the Phillies regarding Michael Young, but to this point they've been told that Young isn't available and might not become available at all.

Stark On Gregerson, Phils, Norris, Santana, Gonzalez

In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spoke with Skip Schumaker, who wants to see MLB really amp up the penalties for PED use.  "The players are in favor of stricter penalties. No doubt," Schumaker said. "And they're also in favor of voiding contracts. Not that I can speak for everybody. I can't. But let's just say that a few of my good friends are high-profile players, and they're in favor of cleaning up the game."  Here's more from Stark's column..

  • An exec who speaks frequently with the Phillies says they have talked a lot with the Padres about a deal that could send Luke Gregerson and an outfielder to Philadelphia for a package of young players.  However, the Phillies appear to be looking for deals that wouldn't require parting with their most advanced prospects.  Earlier today, we heard that Gregerson is drawing significant interest.
  • Gregerson also appears to be at the top of the list for the Tigers.  However, it's going to take at least one big league-ready young player who projects as an immediate contributor for the Padres, in part because Gregerson is under club control for next season.
  • While the discussion around the Phillies is framed as a black-and-white decision between buying and selling, execs of two clubs say they're mostly trying to position themselves for the future without giving up on 2013.
  • The Braves are more interested in the starting pitcher market than they were before Tim Hudson's injury, but they're no more likely to pay the price for a Jake Peavy, Ervin Santana, Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse.  An official of one team who spoke with the Braves said they'd be open to a modest deal similar to their deal for Paul Maholm last year, but they're "not going to trade Alex Wood for any of the guys on this market."  Earlier today, MLB.com's Mark Bowman offered a different take, reporting that the Braves are looking at front-line hurlers.
  • Three clubs with interest in the Astros' Bud Norris tell Stark that they have a feeling that Houston may just be gauging the hurler's trade value and could be waiting to move him this winter.  Those execs said it reminds them of how the Rays used to gauge interest in pitchers like Matt Garza and James Shields in July so they could focus on those teams' systems before dealing them the following offseason.
  • Clubs that have checked in with the Royals say Santana is only available for a huge payout.  The Royals have openly told the shoppers they've talked to that the only way they'll move Santana is if they "win the deal," and that means they want a second baseman and/or right fielder who can start for them in 2014.  Despite their situation, the Royals are telling everyone their priority is to win as many games as possible this season, not cut payroll.
  • Clubs that are in on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez seem to think that the Red Sox are the favorite because they like the idea of spending money on a big-league-ready guy more than overpaying in prospects for a strong pitcher on the trade market.  One exec says that he should be in the big leagues by September and be a rotation regular next year.
  • The Pirates might not be as focused on Alex Rios as they've been portrayed.  Rios' contract, which would increase his base salary to $13MM next season if he's traded, doesn't fit into their payroll.  On top of that, other scouts say Bucs scouts have questioned Rios' effort.  Stark says Justin Morneau, who they've inquired on, is a name to file away.  Even though they'd prefer a right-handed bat who could play right field, they could move Garrett Jones back to right if they deal for a first baseman.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.



Schierholtz, Rios Top Pirates’ Wish List

9:28am: White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams "has been spotted in Altoona," home of the Pirates' Double-A club, notes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

6:58am: Chicago right fielders Nate Schierholtz and Alex Rios top the Pirates' wish list, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.  The Bucs "have been watching Schierholtz for more than a month," notes Levine.

Right field is an obvious need for the 60-39 Pirates, who have been using Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, and Garrett Jones there and have gotten an aggregate .228/.291/.360 line.  Schierholtz, 29, signed a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Cubs in December after being non-tendered by the Phillies.  At .277/.334/.521 with a career-high five RBIs last night, he's having an excellent campaign.  Arbitration eligibility for 2014 is a big plus, though for some GMs Schierholtz has yet to shake the reputation of a platoon bat given his continued lack of playing time and struggles against left-handed pitching.

Levine quotes Cubs president Theo Epstein saying, "I think it is fair to say we have some players who can help other clubs.  That would especially be true for players who are not under contract control next season."   As you might expect, that's an indication that the team is more inclined to move its impending free agents, such as closer Kevin Gregg, as opposed to someone like Schierholtz.

The Pirates' interest in Rios has been previously noted.  He's on the radar of the Rangers, Royals, and Red Sox as well.


Rangers Targeting Rios, Pence, Morales

11:10pm: The Rangers are not currently pursuing De Aza, Morosi tweets.

7:17pm: The Rangers have also set their sights on Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, and Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales to fill a need for a right-handed bat, baseball sources tell Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.  Unlike Rios, Pence and Morales are only signed through the remainder of this season.  It's also worth noting that while the White Sox are sure to be sellers, that's not the case with San Francisco or Seattle.

4:01pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Rangers are also interested in Alejandro De Aza. The 29-year-old De Aza is hitting .275/.332/.437 with 12 homers and 11 steals. He is controlled through the 2015 season and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason after earning $2.08MM in 2013.

3:54pm: Not content to solely add Matt Garza to their roster, the Rangers are now in active discussions with the White Sox regarding Alex Rios, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

Since the Garza trade, reports have indicated that the Rangers are in the market to add another hitter (Todd Wills of ESPNDallas.com reporting). Rios is of particular interest to the Rangers because of their fear that Nelson Cruz could receive a suspension similar to the one Ryan Braun received on Monday. Rios would also provide GM Jon Daniels with a solution to right field in 2014, should Cruz sign elsewhere as a free agent.

Rios, 32, is batting .278/.333/.442 with 12 homers and 21 stolen bases on the season to go along with solid defense in right field. He's capable of playing center in a pinch (he hasn't played there regularly since 2011) and is earning $12.5MM in both 2013 and 2014. His contract also contains a club option for $13.5MM with a $1MM buyout. He's also drawn interest from the Red Sox and the Pirates, among other teams.


Knobler On Rios, Royals, Braves, Rangers

Here’s a look at the latest trade rumblings from Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com..

  • We know that the Rangers have interest in Alex Rios, but the Royals also like the White Sox outfielder, Knobler writes.  The Royals have been talked about more as sellers and we know that they’re willing to discuss Ervin Santana, but KC has also been looking to add under-control players who could fill their needs in right field or at second base.  It’s not clear how much the division rivals have talked, however.  
  • The Braves need their hitting to improve, but they’re scouring the market for bullpen help, writes Knobler.  The main focus has been on finding a left-handed reliever, but they’ve also looked at right-handed bullpen help and even at starting pitchers.  Left-handers like the BrewersMike Gonzalez and James Russell of the Cubs would make sense for them.  Marlins lefty Mike Dunn has also been mentioned by some teams, but the Braves have been told he won’t be traded.
  • In addition to Rios, the Rangers also have their eye on the MetsMarlon Byrd (Twitter link).  Last week it was said that the Mets need to be “overwhelmed” to trade Byrd.

Stark’s Latest: Brewers, Ruggiano, Young, Storen

ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams.  That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column

  • Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars.  While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals.  "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
  • The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick.  The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
  • Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter.  Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said.  Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
  • We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams.  The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
  • The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club.  Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week.  The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
  • Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
  • Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers.  The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
  • The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year.  The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
  • Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder.  The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
  • The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline.  Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him. 
  • The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching.  While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
  • In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal.  You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."

AL East Notes: Anthopoulos, Sternberg, Rios, Orioles

The Orioles paid a steep price to acquire Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, ESPN's Keith Law opines, (Insider subscription required), given that Rodriguez will be a free agent this offseason.  The busy marketplace for relief pitching could be a boon to another AL East club if they decided to become sellers; "if a two-month rental of K-Rod gets a mid-level prospect, the Jays should shop Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar," Law tweets.

Here's the latest from around the AL East…


AL Central Notes: Morneau, Tigers, Rios, Peavy

We'll end the evening with some links from the AL Central …

  • Twins first baseman Justin Morneau talked to reporters, including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, about the recent trade rumors that have circulated. While he has a six-team no-trade clause, Morneau said that none of those teams are among the clubs reportedly interested in dealing for him.
  • Morneau also expressed that he hopes to stay in Minnesota, but has not been contacted about an extension. Set to become a free agent in 2013, the 32-year-old figures to be worth far short of his now-expiring six-year, $80MM deal.
  • For his part, Twins owner Jim Pohlad told La Velle E. Neal II of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that, while he would not "feel great about [Morneau] being traded," the team ultimately must "do whatever it takes to win." He added that Minnesota has twice rebuffed Morneau when he approached the club to try and discuss an extension.
  • Even with Joaquin Benoit, Drew Smyly, and Bruce Rondon pitching well at the back of the bullpen, the Tigers continue to explore the trade market, according to CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler. He says that Detroit is scouting the Marlins, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Astros in search of bullpen pieces.
  • While Knobler does not connect the Tigers to any specific relievers, he does say that the team is not interested in Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees. Dan Martin of the New York Post, on the other hand, reports precisely the opposite. (Hat tip to River Ave. Blues.) He writes that the Tigers may be one of the only teams interested in Chamberlain, with the Phillies, Braves, and Giants not intrigued.
  • There was a moment of excitement tonight when White Sox outfielder and trade candidate Alex Rios was pulled from the game after the sixth inning. Rumored to have been seen hugging in the dugout, it turns out that Rios was pulled for not hustling on the basepaths. MLB.com's Scott Merkin was among the first (Twitter link) to firmly quash the speculation that a Rios trade had gone down. 
  • Since peaking in late May with an OPS that reached .928, Rios has seen his on-base and (especially) power numbers plummet. On the heels of two substandard months, Rios now stands at a league-average OPS of .755 for the year, making him a less compelling trade piece than he looked to be back in May. 
  • Expect a lot of teams to be watching Jake Peavy's start today for the White Sox. Peavy, who could be the most valuable starter available since he is controlled through next season, will look to prove that he is healthy and effective after a DL stint.

Cafardo On Rios, Young, Peavy, Aramis

The Red Sox have scouted both Alex Rios and Michael Young recently, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Cafardo adds that the team is likely to scout Jake Peavy's next few starts for the White Sox as he returns from the disabled list. In a separate tweet, Cafardo reports that the Yankees and Red Sox are both likely to scout Aramis Ramirez next week when he returns from the disabled list.

Boston's in Rios is somewhat of a surprise, as both Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury have played well across the board, and Daniel Nava is hitting .288/.374/.429 while playing the outfield corners. Nava's OPS has declined in each month this season, however, and he grades out as a poor defender according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and The Fielding Bible. Rios would also present the Sox with a right field option if they wish to move Victorino to center field in 2014, should Ellsbury sign elsewhere (my own speculation).

The Young connection makes sense in light of recent reports that they're looking at upgrades on the left side of their infield. There's said to be "intense" interest in Young from a number of teams, and the Phillies could probably move him even if they don't wish to fully commit as sellers.

Ramirez hasn't hit for much power this season when on the field, but he's hitting .271 with a .359 on-base percentage, which should appeal to both teams. Neither has received much production at the hot corner. He's under control through 2014, but the $16MM salary that he is guaranteed next year could be prohibitive for interested parties.

Earlier today it was reported that the Red Sox are also interested in Houston's Bud Norris, and last night the Pirates were also connected to Rios.