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Buying Low on Young Outfielders

by Mike DePilla
Friday, July 17, 2009

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com speculates that the Sox may renew their interest in Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios. According to Rosenthal, the Sox have had interest in Rios in the past and could still see him as a full time centerfielder, especially if Carlos Quentin isn't at 100% for 2009. As mentioned here at White Sox Mix before, Rios is due a lot of money and isn't exactly setting the American League on fire this year. His attitude has been questioned as well, and this video isn't going to help matters.

The Blue Jays and Sox do look like likely trading partners. The Jays have good options for the Sox three biggest needs: CF, 3B and SP, and the financial situation is dire enough in Toronto that JP Ricciardi might be more than ambivalent about unloading high priced salaries, even if he has to accept less than market value or chip in a few million himself.

Whether or not Roy Halladay is attached to the deal, Alex Rios does make some sense for the Sox. If the Jays pick up $2-3 million per year on his deal and he bounces back even just a notch with a change of scenery, he is a long term solution in CF who can play solid D, run and knock out some extra base hits. At an average of about $9 million per year (with the Jays paying the other $3 million), he really wouldn't be paid that much over market value.

One other struggling outfielder I've heard connected to the Sox is the Marlins' Jeremy Hermida. The Marlins are down on Hermida and in need of bullpen help, and might be interested in Octavio Dotel. A rumored deal centered around Hermida-for-Dotel passes the smell test, but the Sox would have to offer some sweeteners to get that one done, even with Hermida hitting only .252 this year.

With the Sox hitting under the microscope to begin with, Carlos Quentin a big question mark and Scott Podsednik likely to tail off in the second half, any move to bolster the outfield is one Kenny Williams should consider. Rios and Hermida have a host of issues themselves, but that's what makes them attainable. (If either was an All Star with a cheap contract, there wouldn't be potential for trades to begin with.) If Williams wants to improve the outfield (before Jordan Danks arrives next September), it's not likely he'll get a Matt Holliday, or sign a Jason Bay in the off season.

The bottom line is that both Rios and Hermida have a lot of potential, and they're young: Rios is 28 and Hermida 25. Their performance hasn't been up to expectations over the past two years, but they're both entering their prime production seasons. Kenny Williams always works best in his "buy low" mode-- look no further than Jose Contreras, Matt Thornton, Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin. Rios and Hermida both fit in that category.

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