7:35 PM Eastern
Ever since the “Alex Rios claimed on waivers” story came out over the weekend, I have been answering questions and comments by saying that this is nothing new, that everyone goes through waivers at this time of year, and that guys get claimed all the time. This was no big deal, because the notion that the Blue Jays wouldn’t recall the waiver and would simply let Alex Rios go for nothing was simply absurd.
I was wrong. Really, really wrong.
It turns out that the Blue Jays evidently did see the White Sox’ claim as a”gift from the baseball gods”, as ESPN’s Buster Olney said in his initial report, and while they may not have been more than happy to simply let the Sox take on the contract, that was their ultimate decision after three days of heavy trade negotiation didn’t result in the Sox coming up with a package the Blue Jays found attractive.
The Blue Jays, in what J.P. Ricciardi spoke of as the new economic reality of the game, gain financial flexibility to the tune of $63.2 million over the next five years. $9.7 million comes off the books for 2010, and added to the $6.25 million freed up in the Scott Rolen deal, that gives the Jays almost $16 million in extra money to spend next season.
If they spend it on Chone Figgins and a terrific DH, they could be in very, very good shape for next season.
Over the last couple of days, I have been pointing out that Alex Rios is Carl Crawford with fewer stolen bases. Their career slash stats (batting average/on-base/slugging) are almost identical and both play tremendous defense. While Rios has a better throwing arm, Crawford is good for 50+ stolen bases a season, and Rios will nab 25-30.
Alex Rios has all the talent in the world and he’s just 28 years old. The Blue Jays felt as though that talent wouldn’t ever be realized and that they were better off getting out from underneath that contract while they could. I can’t agree.
I can’t imagine that the Jays wouldn’t have been able to deal Rios over the winter to a team that’s looking for a centrefielder and get some real talent back, even if they had to pick up some of the contract. The contract isn’t untenable, and I think there’s a very strong chance that the Blue Jays will really regret this move in the future.
Hopefully I’m wrong again, and they’ll re-invest the money they’ve just saved back into payroll and pick up some players who can really help them. Maybe so many of you are right and Rios will never become the player his talent suggests he can be, but I believe that cutting bait on a guy who has already been an all-star twice, is a top-10 guy in the majors in raw talent and hasn’t yet turned 30 is a mistake. Time, as always, will tell.
Sorry I didn’t post last night’s edition of The JaysTalk sooner, but there was a blackout in my neighbourhood yesterday thanks to that sensational storm. Here it is, for your listening pleasure:
Oh, and that long-awaited softball update! I have two games to catch you up on, both wins. In the first, an ugly 0-for-4, and in the second 2-for-2 with a walk, which came in the bottom of the last as part of our walk-off win – I scored the tying run.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!