Should the Mets claim Alex Rios?

Alex RiosAs of sometime yesterday, the Texas Rangers reportedly placed Alex Rios on revocable waivers. On August 4th, the Mets designated Bobby Abreu for assignment, meaning that there is now an open 40 man roster spot. So, should the Mets put in a waiver claim on Rios?

First let’s get an idea about what waivers means. After the July 31st trade deadline, until seasons end (meaning after the end of the World Series), no player can change teams unless they are released or they go through the waiver process. That process is fairly simple. Every team has the right to put their players on revocable waivers.  Once that’s done, every other team in Baseball has 47 hours to put in a claim on that player. If a team puts in that claim, the team that currently has the player has three options; they can pull the player off of waivers, work out a trade with the claiming team or release the player to the claiming team. Matt Thornton is an example of that as he was placed on waivers by the Yankees, claimed by the Nationals and the Yankees simply allowed him to go to the Nationals without compensation. If the player clears waivers, he can be traded to any other team for players not on the 40 man roster or other players that have cleared waivers.

With all of that in mind, the Mets are in a perfect situation to make a claim on Rios. The Mets need a corner outfielder. Chris Young has been a disaster considering the amount of money they signed him to and without Young, the Mets are just putting together whatever mix of players they can fit into left field. Rios would be able to man that position for the remainder of the year at a cost of approximately 3.8 million dollars. On top of that, Rios is signed through next season, but only via team option, which can be bought out for one million at the end of the year. In summation, if the Mets acquire Rios and he plays poorly, it will only cost them 4.8 million dollars. If he plays well and they decide to pick up his option, then the Mets will have a solid player at 13.5 million dollars for next season and can focus their off season efforts on finding a bat at another position, such as shortstop.

So there is no real liability in terms of Rios’ contract, but is he still worth the claim as a ballplayer? Rios is currently hitting .296 with a 742 OPS. That OPS is 23 points lower than his career mark, while his batting average is 17 points higher than his career to this point. This can be explained by a decrease in home runs this season. For his career, per 162 games, Rios has hit approximately 17 home runs, with about 34% of his hits ending up as extra bases. This year, about 28% of his hits have been for extra bases, because he’s only hit four home runs. He does currently lead the American League in triples, so he is still productive as a hitter, even if his power has dissipated. He’s still productive on the base paths as he’s well on his way to his third consecutive 20 plus stolen base season. He’s struggled a little bit defensively this season, but his range and arm are still above average. Basically, Rios isn’t the same player he was, but he’s also a pretty solid everyday player. For context, acquiring Rios would be similar to the Shawn Green acquisition in 2006, another waiver transaction, except that Rios has still retained his speed, which Green hadn’t by the time he came to the Mets.

When you finally consider that the Mets might not have to give up much, if anything for Rios then it’s really a no brainer for them to put in the claim. If the Rangers just dump his contract on the Mets, then they can choose not to pick up his option if he doesn’t perform. If the Mets make the claim, they could also block a team in front of them from making a claim (the Pirates come to mind as they need an outfielder now that Andrew McCutchen is hurt) as the waiver rules stipulate that if multiple teams make a claim on a player, the team with the lower winning percentage is given the claim.

All of this comes down to something simple. Does Sandy Alderson believe in this team or not? If he believes that they legitimately have a shot to play significant games down the stretch of the season, he will put in the claim on Rios and see where it goes. If he doesn’t, we’ll hear that Rios has been claimed by a team with a better record than the Mets, or that he passed through waivers. In the end, the Mets should make the attempt to acquire Rios as there is really no downside to the acquisition. As the saying goes, the ball is now in Alderson’s court.

23 comments for “Should the Mets claim Alex Rios?

  1. Sean Flattery
    August 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    He’s an upgrade, only issue is the salary. I’d claim him.

  2. Name
    August 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    I would think that an AL club would claim him, as they get first dibs on Rios. But if he does reach the Mets, i would put the claim in as worst case we take on the contract, which would only cost money.

  3. August 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    If they dump Chris Young and sign him, then yes because he’s probably a better option than denDekker.

    If he comes at the expense of another player, I’d be hesitant. He’s getting on-base more often than normal, but his power is way down. He’s struggling with RISP and his batting average on fly balls – when he’s hit most of his home runs during his career – is abysmal this season. Unless they can “fix him in five minutes,” he’s limited to being a contact better with a bit of speed and defense on a team that can’t afford station-to-station offense.

  4. Patrick Albanesius
    August 6, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Agree with Mike Koehler that a claim should mean Chris Young is released. At this point I’d like to see what Kirk or MDD can offer with more playing time, but if the Mets can get a claim in, there is very little downside.

  5. Patrick Albanesius
    August 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Also, I mentioned this on the Facebook page, but that picture is literally perfect. I was cracking up.

  6. Joe Gomes
    August 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Too much money for these small market Mets. Besides, why claim Alex Rios so that the Imbecile can continue to play CY?

  7. Rob
    August 6, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    How can any Mets fan not want to get him. A close to 300 hitter with speed and D. It moves Granderson to left (where he belongs) and strengths the D. Also it solves the outfield for at least a year. Give them Niese Colon or Gee and throw in an other young arm of the AA variety. Anyone complaining about this move is coo coo for coco puffs

    • Jerry Grote
      August 6, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Not as cut and dried as you make it out to be.

      Campbell is free, and if he is anywhere near as good as his first 130 PAs he is very, very, very valuable.

      The only way I sign Alex Rios is if I make a similar move to drop either Niese or Gee out of the rotation and elevate Montero or Syndergaard. If you are going to commit to winning, then commit goddamnit.

      Otherwise give the next 140 PA in LF to Campbell.

    • Eric
      August 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      Why would you give up that much when Texas obviously wants to dump him? I say claim him if possible and see what happens.

  8. Chris F
    August 6, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Q: Sign Alex Rios?
    A: No

  9. August 7, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Arlington is considered a hitters ballpark and his numbers are down. How old is Rios? So the Mets essentially will add Rios for say 5 million for 2 months (includes your buyout) And eat CY’s contract for 2.5 million. Total of 7+ million dollars for a very cheap and frugal ownership. Now as to your 13.5 million for next season. Adding that to the 54.4 million already committed and you essentially have a 100 million payroll for 2015. Never happen
    Name. It would only cost money this ownership is Not willing to spend.

  10. Steve L
    August 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I think they should grab Rios and pick up his 13.5 million option for 2015 if they can’t find a better option in free agency. He’s better than other internal options for the immediate future, but also won’t block Nimmo or Puello long term. And Rios still hits lefties very well, if Nimmo or Puello are ready mid-2015 they can call either up and use a Granderson/Rios platoon in RF for the rest of the year. It’s an expensive platoon, but the Mets have such a low payroll relative to their market/TV deal they can afford nearly 30 million at one OF spot (they’re paying the league minimum/close to it at the other two).

    Whether Wilpon is willing to open up the wallet for Rios is another question entirely..

  11. Steve L
    August 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Quick addendum, but I should note the Mets shouldn’t give up anything of significant value in a trade with the Rangers. If they ask for somebody like Matz we should tell Texas to go pound sand.

  12. August 7, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Steve are you serious about a 28 million dollar platoon. Why do you suppose the Wilpons have such a small payroll for the number one television market in baseball? I could continue. But what’s the point?

  13. Eric
    August 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    This situation just points out the folly of the Granderson signing. It will prove to be an albatross around our necks for the foreseeable future.

  14. Steve l
    August 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I’m serious that they should grab Rios. I’m serious that they should pick up the option if they can’t find a better option in free agency. And I’m serious that *if* Nimmo/Puello are ready mid-2015 they should suck up and expensive Granderson/Rios platoon for one year. They may do part one, there’s a slim chance they’ll do part two, and essentially a zero chance they’ll do part three.

    What the Mets *should* do and what they *actually* do rarely overlaps…

  15. August 7, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Steve if the Mets do what you hope they should do they will have 68 million dollars invested in 5 players. Add 25 million (conservative) for10 Arbitration hearings and you’re up to 93 million. Add 15 minimum salaries and you get a 100 million dollar payroll. That is something the Wilpons will Never do. Please note that the new national television contracts went into effect this year (from 25 to 50 million annually) and the Mets did Not apply any of that additional income to this years payroll.

    • Steve L
      August 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      Well, I certainly don’t want to reopen the “did they increase/add payroll for 2014?” debate. I’ll just note what I said before, that if the spending on FAs for 2014 was step 1, and they continue to bring in more help (or give raises to key guys they currently have), then great. If they really don’t intend to ever raise payroll over 90 million, then that’s a problem and generally inexcusable considering the market/TV deal.

      I guess I’m just less pessimistic about the Mets plan going forward, but my opinion on this could change rapidly.

      Setting aside whether they *will* claim Rios, do you think they *should* do so?

  16. Metsense
    August 7, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    No. There is no reason to invest any money on this season. Play the young guys in leftfield to see which one will be the 2015 4th and 5th outfielders. This winter decide if you are investing in a free agent established quality impact bat or trading for one. Rios is not that player.

  17. Scott Ferguson
    August 7, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Well he passed through waivers, so that’s that.

  18. August 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    No i would not commit to Rios in any way. You have several options and to commit 13 million dollars now for 2015 is making the same mistake SA made with CY. I thought Sandy was good at the waiting game. What’s the rush? Can always make a trade. I’d rather see the team invest in an upgrade at SS and platoon LF.

  19. Eric
    August 8, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Not saying Rios is long term answer but,
    what in the world are you waiting for.? Not to compare the Yankees & Mets necessarily but they have kept their team competative by spending a few bucks, not alot,, a few. Are you waiting for this team to spend money? good luck.

  20. Steve L
    August 8, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Part of the problem is I don’t see a lot of impact bats that will be available in free agency in the offseason. I like Rios to bounce back a little, and there’d be no commitment beyond 2015 in case 2014 was the start of serious decline.

    It’s not a huge deal either way, but picking up Rios seems like it may have added a few wins next year, and even if he’s done there’s no long term risk.

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