With star hitters such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson missing the vast majority of the 2013 season to this point, the New York Yankees have struggled mightily on offense. If the Yanks can find a way to acquire outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox, however, their playoff push will receive a much-needed boost.
According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Yankees special assistant Jim Hendry attended the White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers game on Tuesday. With Rios seemingly on the block and the Yankees in dire need of a right-handed bat, Sullivan believes that the Bronx Bombers may have been scouting the two-time All-Star.
The Yankees have also been linked to another outfielder in the city of Chicago as they are interested in former Yankee and current Cub Alfonso Soriano, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. While Soriano would also be a solid addition to the team due to the Yankees' dearth of consistent, right-handed producers, Rios would unquestionably be a better fit.
Familiarity is a big reason why Soriano to the Yankees makes sense as he spent the first five years of his career in the Bronx, but Soriano is 37 years of age, and he could potentially break down at any time. Rios, on the other hand, is just 32, and recent production suggests that he could have several more excellent years left in him.
Rios was particularly fantastic last season as he finished 15th in AL MVP voting. Rios flashed the five-tool ability that he showed so often earlier in his career as he hit .304 with 25 home runs, 91 RBI and 23 stolen bases. Rios' numbers are admittedly down a bit this year, but they are certainly respectable as he is hovering around the .280 mark with 12 home runs, 48 RBI and 20 steals.
Soriano actually has better power numbers this year with 17 homers and 51 RBI to go with a .254 average, but Rios is a better all-around player. Rios and Soriano are pretty comparable in the field, but Rios has more range and would likely traverse Yankee Stadium's tricky outfield a bit better. Rios is also a much better baserunner at this point in their respective careers, so he offers more versatility.
It's also important to remember that both Rios and Soriano are signed through the 2014 season, so the Yankees will be committing to an additional year if they trade for either player. Also, since both players have fairly hefty salaries, their presence could prevent the Yanks from making moves during the offseason. That would be less of an issue in Rios' case since he is more likely to produce next season than Soriano.
Soriano is admittedly a more accomplished power hitter than Rios, and hitting home runs has been an issue for the Yanks. With that said, guys like Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have struggled to get on base at all after starting the season red hot. Soriano's incredibly low .287 on-base percentage certainly isn't going to help matters.
Even if the Yanks don't hit home runs, they can win games moving forward with great pitching, and by manufacturing runs. Rios is far better in that regard than Soriano since he hits for average, takes some walks, and is willing to go in motion on the base paths.
Metaphorically speaking, Soriano is a one-trick pony, while Rios is the equivalent to a Swiss army knife since he can do so many different things on the diamond.
There is little doubt that Rios will cost more than Soriano, but teams have to give in order to get. Maybe Soriano could help the Yankees down the stretch this year, but it's hard to imagine him having a great year next season at 38 years of age.
Not only would Rios be a big help this season, but he could be a key contributor next year as well.
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