When Value Meets Need: A Love Story with Alex Rios


Are The Indians And Alex Rios A Perfect Match?

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As the Indians build their roster for the 2015 season, Wahoo’s on First will be breaking down players that the Indians could target into one of three categories – Ugly, Ruggedly Handsome, and Sexy.

An Ugly player (easy to spot warts) is a player that will be signed to a minor league contract that is coming off poor performance or has battled injury.

The contract will more than likely be a minor league deal with an invite to spring training but could also include a major league salary if the player makes opening day roster.

The Ruggedly Handsome (multiple teams will be targeting) player is defined as a player that doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to them, is more than likely going to sign a 1-2 year deal ranging anywhere from $7MM for a 1-year deal to over $20MM for a two year deal.

 The Sexy player (top-tier free agent) is a free agent that will command a multi-year deal and may cost a draft pick. These players are considered franchise changers or the last piece of the puzzle depending on your view of where the Indians stand heading into the winter.

Every so often, things come together: you drive around the parking lot one more time and find that a front spot is now open where it wasn’t before. The scratch off ticket you bought with your last dollar bill in your wallet is a winner. The clouds part, that one ray of light comes down on Pride Rock where Rafiki holds up baby Simba, and everything seems right with the world. I’m gonna be honest, when I saw that Alex Rios was going to become available, I started sweating about what could be for next year, and thats not just because of Rios’s undeniably attractive “features.” I see his bat being a key part of what could be a re-worked offense going into 2015.

Rios had his team option turned down by the Texas Rangers last week after he posted a lackluster 2014 campaign, hitting a slash line of .280/.311/.398 with only 4 HRs and 54 RBI. His running game was also grounded, only stealing 17 bases, a massive downturn from his 2013 career high 42. The steals decreasing is not a surprise, most players lose a little speed especially when they reah their mid 30’s. The lack of home runs is what most will point to, brows furrowing, when they look at him in free agency. However a closer look at the numbers show a lack of luck. Rios hit 30 doubles and 8 triples, both in line with his averages, the triples actually tying his career high. He also had the best line drive ratio of his career at 23.5%. Those numbers indicate that maybe the HRs just weren’t there, for whatever reason.

 Free agent list: Ruggedly Handsome

2014 Salary/Contract Status: Free Agent. The Texas Rangera declined the team option on Rios, paying him a $2 million buyout instead of his $13.5 million salary.

Past 3 years: Rios struggled with the long ball in 2014, but had a pretty decent year in 2013 split between the Chicago White Sox and the Rangers. He hit 18 home runs but stole 42 bases. He’s been fairly healthy in his career until last year, where a thumb injury limited him and possibly limited his power as well.

Why Cleveland?: Mark Shapiro has made it known that there are holes, and with the struggles down the stretch on offense, moves are expected, and some might even argue, necessary. Right field was a position that the Tribe got little out of last year at the plate. The combination of Ryan Raburn and David Murphy were lackluster at best and late season replacement Tyler Holt is an option next year but is not the prototypical power right handed bat that the front office is more than likely looking for. There is a hope that Raburn and Nick Swisher can come back healthy and provide 20-30 HR combined, but the image of those two struggling on defense do not produce kind feelings inside.