SEATTLE -- The White Sox just bolstered their outfield and will take a major hit in the pocket book because of it. Chicago claimed outfielder Alex Rios off waivers from Toronto on Monday, and will take on the remainder of the two-time All-Star's nearly $70 million contract that runs through 2014, and includes a $13.5 million club option for 2015. Rios was hitting .264 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs in 108 games for the Blue Jays this season, a performance that was viewed by most as an underachievement, since he is coming off back-to-back All-Star Game appearances. But he's 28 years old and can play all of the outfield positions, something that made him an attractive target for White Sox general manager Ken Williams.
Williams said the waiver claim was made as a way of opening trade talks -- which Williams had engaged the Blue Jays in prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline -- something that is fairly common. Teams can place a player on waivers after July 31 to gauge interest or attempt to trade him at a later point in the season, and can either let him go, negotiate a trade or pull him back if a claim is made. The Blue Jays chose to let Rios go as a way of shedding salary -- something that surprised Williams, who was expecting to have to work out a trade for him. Now, that money is Chicago's responsibility, something that will likely cause some head-scratching among White Sox fans. This is the second big-money transaction Chicago has made recently, as the club also acquired pitcher Jake Peavy in a July 31 trade with San Diego. Peavy is due $48 million over the next three years, with a $22 million club option for 2013 or a $4 million buyout. But more importantly to the White Sox, the Rios acquisition gives them another piece to contribute to a late-season playoff push. "We're OK with the cash because of the way we've structured our payroll over the year," Williams said. "We look forward with the young core that has developed right in front of our eyes, and the new young core behind them that's going to come up and fill some spots as well. We just feel like we can make decisions like we've made the last couple of transactions." Rios will join Jermaine Dye, Scott Podsednik and Carlos Quentin in a suddenly crowded Chicago outfield. But manager Ozzie Guillen assured that there wouldn't be issues with playing time, lauding the deal as one that should sit well with the rest of the guys in the clubhouse. "They should like it," Guillen said. "We bring Peavy and now Rios, the orders of the general manager shows them how much we want to win. Every time you get someone to help you to win, players should be happy." But will fans be happy? With all the money Chicago has been spending recently, there may be some questions as to whether the White Sox can really afford to add Rios to their roster. Williams doesn't think that's going to be an issue. "We're out on a limb a little bit with the last two acquisitions," Williams said. "But what we have seen in recent games at home is our fans are starting to wrap their arms around this team, and the walkup has been great. People are getting excited about the possibility. I think they can see this team being a dangerous team, if we can get to the playoffs, and match up against anyone." This also makes the future of Chicago's five potential free agents -- including slugger Jim Thome, Dye and Podsednik -- uncertain. Having Rios' money on the payroll might decrease the likelihood of guys like Dye -- who is due $11.5 million this season and has a mutual option with the club for 2010 -- returning next season. "I haven't really talked to anybody, so I don't know," Dye said. "There's a bunch of ways you can look at it. [Rios] does play all three outfield spots. ... I'm a free agent, Podsednik is a free agent. So it's still up in the air what's going to happen this offseason, but hopefully it doesn't affect them bringing me back." Dye still said the addition of Rios was a good one, though. "I think the team's looking to try to win, adding players that can help out right now," Dye said. "It's all about winning now. You add a guy that can not only help you now, but in the future, too." Rios, who was in New York with Toronto preparing to face the Yankees, will try to fly back to Toronto on Monday before flying from Toronto to Seattle on Tuesday. Williams doesn't expect Rios to be able to play until Wednesday.
Christian Caple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.