CHICAGO | Some $16.5 million in salary relief through 2014 and the immediate start of the Avisail Garcia era were the immediate benefits to the White Sox Friday after their trade of right fielder Alex Rios to the Texas Rangers.
Top prospect Garcia arrived from Durham, N.C. during Game 2 of the day-night doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. He made his Sox debut, striking out on three pitches with runners on first and third as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Acquired as part of the recent Jake Peavy trade, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Garcia is expected to take Rios’ place in the lineup and possibly his outfield spot.
General manager Rick Hahn received a player to be named later for Rios, one whom “we think will play a role on this club and has some upside as well.” He could not yet identify the player due to “various restrictions” on the 40-man roster in the waiver period.
“There was just some absolutely off-the-wall and asinine reports as to the players who were being bandied about,” Hahn said. “Sort of stunning. I don’t know where it was coming from. This one, there was a lot of mis-information out there.
“However, I got a good relationship with (Rangers GM) Jon Daniels down there. We were able to sort of cut through the nonsense that was floating around, and focus on a rather narrow pool of guys.”
Hahn also “kicked in a little bit of cash at the end” to upgrade the quality of the player received. Some reports had the Sox sending $1 million to the Rangers, which would equal the buyout of Rios’ contract after the 2014 season.
“There’s a fair amount of economic flexibility that comes with a trade like this,” Hahn said, “which we look forward to using both in the draft and internationally as well as potentially other avenues to acquire players for Chicago.”
Hahn confirmed he had talked with the Rangers about Rios up to the non-waiver trade deadline at 3 p.m. July 31. When right fielder Nelson Cruz was suspended for performance enhancing drug use on Monday, the Rangers urgently re-visited the deal and claimed Rios on waivers Thursday.
In spite of not running out a double-play grounder that got him benched recently and other concentration lapses, Rios was described by Hahn as a “pure class act” in his four Sox seasons.
Rios was in the lineup for Game 1 of the doubleheader. But he was scratched just before the first pitch when the trade was completed. He was dressed in the third inning as a clubhouse attendant loaded his equipment bags onto a cart for the flight to Houston, where the Rangers played Friday night.
“It’s going to be refreshing for myself,” Rios said. “I’m going to be going to a team that’s fighting for a playoff spot.
“I wasn’t expecting (the trade Friday). But at the same time, it could happen…and did happen. It’s just a new chapter in my life.”
Garcia was all the Sox expected, playing center in eight games at Triple-A Charlotte.
“He’s a multi-talented athletic kid who’s very aware of what finishing touches need to be made to his game, and he’s going to get the opportunity to do that in Chicago,” Hahn said.