It's easy this time of year to start talking about trade pieces at the deadline. After all, the Texas Rangers have used the disabled list 20 times and yet, thanks to a high amount of grit and fight, starting with their manager, the club has managed to hover around .500.
But .500 won't get them in the playoffs. And one rough stretch in the next month could make the team a seller at the deadline (I really don't see the Rangers as buyers no matter what they do). By far the player who should receive the most interest from opposing clubs is Alex Rios.
Consider his résumé: Hitting .324 (good for third in the American League entering Tuesday), with 32 RBIs (second to Adrian Beltre on the team) and an .824 OPS. Rios is making $13 million this season, so if traded he'd be owed around $4.33 million for the rest of this season and then would have a $14 million club option for 2015 ($2 million buyout). That option is $13.5 million (and $1 million buyout) if he's not traded and it's the Rangers who pick up the option (just an odd contract quirk).
There's a quiet confidence about Rios. He looks comfortable in the batter's box and is just going about his business in impressive fashion. He's a hard worker, and that attitude has rubbed off on some of his teammates.
The bottom line: Rios is enticing because he would not be just a pure rental player for a prospective team. And because of that, perhaps he can bring the Rangers back something of value. Remember, however, that Rios was obtained last August for Leury Garcia. Texas even got $1 million from the Chicago White Sox as part of the deal. For Chicago, it was more about unloading part of Rios' salary.
That's not the case now. Rios' value is as high as ever thanks to a consistent season. But just because Rios is a hot name and could help a contending club doesn't mean the Rangers should trade him even if they drop out of contention.
Rios' bat wouldn't be a bad thing to have in the middle of the lineup in 2015, even with Michael Choice on the roster. It would allow the Rangers to keep one part of the club the same: An outfield of Shin-Soo Choo in left, Leonys Martin in center and Rios in right, with Choice getting at-bats as the fourth outfielder or designated hitter. That's not a bad thing.
So don't be in such a rush to deal Rios. The Rangers are in a great spot here. They can see what the market looks like for the 33-year-old veteran, and if they get a deal they can't refuse that includes prospects and pieces that could help for the future, they do it. If not, they keep Rios for next season.