Alex Rios probably has made enough over his career to feel comfortable financially, but he received a bailout from the Chicago White Sox today. In one of the unprecedented moves I’ve ever seen, the Toronto Blue Jays put Alex Rios on waivers, just after he had signed a seven year $69.8 million dollar deal in April of 2008. Although JP Ricciardi said this was not a “salary dump”, there are only two explanations, they either knew more about his decline over the last two years or they really did need the money. It also may show that JP isn’t really a good GM as he failed to make a deal for Halladay when there were plenty of options out there for him, and now he’s dumping one of his biggest signings he’s made since being Toronto’s GM. Who knows whats going on north of the border! Maybe Rios couldn’t cut it when they started testing for certain PEDs that he was taking, which forced Toronto’s hand to cut ties before the monster portion of his contract kicked in. I’ve never heard a name as big as his just released for nothing. I saw it flash on television while I was at a Sacramento Rivercats game (Oakland A’s AAA team), and went back to my friends to tell them that Rios was on waivers and nobody believed me! That’s how weird this move was!
The Chicago White Sox claimed him today, which has added to this perplexing situation. They picked up a fourth outfielder when they already have three good options in Dye, Podsednik, and Quentin. Just earlier this month they picked up Peavy via trade, and his ginormous contract of $45 million over the next three years, and now take on Alex’s ridiculous contract too! Why did they even want to pick up a fourth outfielder, especially one that is struggling? Maybe they saw how well it worked out for the Angels by overpaying on Gary Matthews Jr. to be their fourth or fifth outfielder. One thing I still can’t figure out is, why wouldn’t the White Sox just let him not get claimed? If they let him fall through waivers, which he probably would have with his terrible numbers this season (.264 BA, 14 HR, 62 RBI over 108 games). This is also his second straight declining season, which makes this even more baffling. If and when he cleared waivers, they could have signed him to a different contract over the off-season and easily could have paid him less than $10 million a year. They are three games out of the division race at the moment, and I don’t see how this will help them other than having a “good player” to fill in when other players have their rest days. If they made the move because they had Thome, Dye and Contreras coming off the books in 2010, then why not wait until the off-season to make this move to try not to upset the clubhouse hierarchy? If anything, this move will hurt them financially and chemistry wise, unless he has a Matt Holliday-like turnaround in his new surroundings. There’s one big difference, Rios doesn’t have Pujols or have the excuse of going back to a familiar league! Good luck with that one Chicity.