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Monday, July 15, 2013
Trade target: Alex Rios

By Richard Durrett

With less than two weeks until MLB's trade deadline, we'll take a look on the blog in the coming days and weeks at some names that could be available between now and the deadline and debate whether those names make sense for the Texas Rangers.

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Today's trade target: Alex Rios

One of the Rangers' needs is a right-handed bat. Lance Berkman is on the disabled list and struggled in the weeks leading up to his arrival there. Jeff Baker is rehabbing with Double-A Frisco and could join the Rangers right after the All-Star break. His return should help with the club's right-handed bat needs, but that doesn't change the club's wish list to get an impact bat at the deadline.

Among the possible candidates is Rios. The Rangers have reportedly been scouting the Chicago White Sox and Rios is a player they've certainly kept an eye on. Rios is hitting .270 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs. He's also got 19 stolen bases. Against left-handed pitchers, Rios is hitting .294. He's hit in the 3-hole for most of the season.

Rios struggled for parts of June but has bounced back early in July. He'd give the Rangers a quality bat in the outfield that can play in the corners, allowing them to add some offense to the lineup.

The question, as usual, will be cost. Rios is 32 years old and is not a rental player. But he doesn't come cheap, either. He's due to make another $6 million or so this season, $12.5 million next season and there's a $13.5 million club option for 2015. The fact that he's not a rental and has a contract that allows the Rangers some flexibility after 2014 has to be appealing. And he has six teams on his no-trade list, but that does not include Texas (according to this Mark Gonzales report). So Rios is certainly intriguing. Under GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers have preferred making trades for players with more than three months left on their contract (Cliff Lee is the biggest notable exception, though back in 2010 the Rangers at least got compensatory picks when he left).

But because we're talking about a longer contract, the price in prospects could be higher. Of course, the level of prospects might also be based on whether the Rangers absorb the entire contract. Could names like Mike Olt, Joey Gallo, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, Neil Ramirez and even Martin Perez be floated about in this kind of scenario? Sure. Don't be surprised to see middle infielder Luis Sardinas involved, either. But the combination of those players and how it all lines up could determine whether this makes sense for either team.

Rios has my interest, mainly because after the 2013 season the Rangers have questions in the outfield. Nelson Cruz's contract expires. David Murphy hasn't proven that he can handle an everyday job and his contract is up. So the club is going to need him out there, and Rios would be an option for 2014.

I'd part with a pitching prospect or two and would consider Olt or Gallo because Rios is under club control through 2015. But the price of the contract makes me wonder if the Rangers could obtain him without an Olt or Gallo in the deal. I guess we'll see. The White Sox are in a good position. They can wait it out until they get the largest package they can. But if getting Rios means including one of the top hitting prospects in the deal, I'd do it because Rios could be a Ranger through 2015, if the club chooses.

Do you agree? Do you like Rios' bat as a trade deadline pickup and someone in the outfield next season? What would you give up to get him?