Deadline trade targets: White Sox outfielders

Deadline trade targets: White Sox outfielders

July 15, 2013, 11:30 am
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With Ben Revere out six to eight weeks, the Phillies’ shopping list changes a bit. No longer is Ruben Amaro Jr. searching just for a reliever. Now, the Phils could use an everyday centerfielder.
 
The problem the Phillies’ GM faces is that there aren’t too many teams completely out of the race and willing to sell. The two wild-card format increases September excitement, but significantly shrinks the trade market in July.
 
The Phils themselves are an example of that market change. Under the previous playoff system, they’d be 8½ out of the wild-card at the moment. But because they’re chasing the Reds, not the Pirates, the Phillies are just 5½ back.
 
Plus, several floundering teams are clubs that have already gone all-in for 2013 and likely won’t sell. Teams like the 45-49 Blue Jays, the 44-49 Angels and 43-49 Royals. Throw the 43-51 Giants in, as well.
 
That limits the Phils’ potential trade partners to: the Marlins, Brewers, Padres, Mets, Cubs, Astros, White Sox, Twins and Mariners.
 
Some of those teams don’t have outfielders that would represent an upgrade for the Phillies in centerfield. Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins is one player who could be made available, but he’s hitting .212 and is a slightly worse defender than John Mayberry. What would be the point?
 
The White Sox have a pair of trade candidates in Alex Rios and Alejandro De Aza. Of the two, Rios is a more worthwhile option. He can play right field and center, is a solid defender with speed and a productive offensive player. He’s also under contract for 2014 for $12.5 million and has a $13.5 million team option in 2015.
 
Rios, who went 0 for 10 with three strikeouts at Citizens Bank Park last weekend, is hitting .270/.326/.429 on the season with 11 homers, 40 RBIs and 19 steals. Last season he hit .304 with an .850 OPS and 25 home runs.
 
Rios is 32 years old, but concerns over his age are mitigated by his manageable salary for the upcoming seasons. And Rios is not an injury risk – he’s averaged better than 152 games per season since 2007.
 
De Aza is a more natural centerfielder, but he may cost more in the way of prospects. He’s due $2.075 million for 2013 before going to arbitration in 2014 and 2015.
 
De Aza is also another left-handed bat, one that wouldn’t fit well here once Revere returns. Sure, you could move him to a corner and groom him to take over for Delmon Young next season, but better options could be had this winter. De Aza has OK power – he has 12 homers this season and a .422 slugging percentage since 2012 – but not enough to offset all the strikeouts. He has 90 in 88 games this season.
 
Rios’ right-handedness is another benefit. His presence might allow the Phillies to split up lefties Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown, in 2013 or beyond.
 
During the All-Star break, we’ll continue to evaluate the Phillies’ trade options in the outfield and the bullpen. On Tuesday, we’ll take a look at two under-the-radar pieces from the other Chicago team.