When the Rangers traded infielder Leury Garcia for Alex Rios, it wasn't simply about adding a bat to replace Nelson Cruz for the second half of 2013. What made Rios intriguing for Texas was that he could be under team control for another two seasons. Rios, thanks to salary escalators in his contract in the event that he was traded, will make $13 million in 2014 and the club has the option of paying him $14 million in 2015 (or buying him out for $2 million).
That means Rios is the Rangers' starting right fielder in 2014. He hit .280 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 47 games (197 plate appearances) with the Rangers following the trade deadline deal. Rios stole 16 bases and was caught once. He provided solid defense and comes into 2014 as a reliable member of the middle of the lineup.
In Rios, who turns 33 in February, the Rangers got someone who adds to the club's speed on the bases and improves the outfield defense. And his numbers in 2013 weren't an aberration. His career batting average is .278 and he's stolen an average of 25 bases a season (he stole 42 total last year).
OUTLOOK: When Cruz's suspension came down, the Rangers had to do something to get an additional bat in the lineup. Rios' appeal was not only his speed, but his contract. They didn't deal Garcia for a rental.
Rios may have the important job of hitting behind Adrian Beltre in the fifth spot. That's going to be a chance to generate plenty of RBIs. The Rangers also need him to use his speed as they try to be aggressive, yet smart on the bases.