Tonight we heard once again that the Pirates were looking at Alex Rios. Jon Heyman reported the interest this time, also saying they could be interested in Alexei Ramirez. One comment Heyman made stood out to me. He noted that Alex Rios is the top all around outfielder available on the trade market. He’s right about that, and that speaks to the quality of players on the market right now.
Earlier today, Pat Lackey of WHYGAVS pointed out an interesting comparison between Rios and Jose Tabata.
Fun fact: Alex Rios's career wRC+ is lower than Jose Tabata's (101 vs. 100).
— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) July 18, 2013
Rios was a great player from 2006-2008, but has been inconsistent ever since then. Tabata hasn’t been great, but has been consistently around a 100 wRC+. Since 2010, here are the yearly comparisons.
They both had one down year, and they both had one strong year, although that year is this year for Tabata, and it’s limited to 136 plate appearances this year. The one area where Rios is a clear upgrade is defense. Tabata has a -23.2 UZR/150 in right field in his career. Rios has a 9.8 UZR/150 in right field in almost 10 times the amount of innings. Rios also has a better chance of going on a hot streak and making an impact for a team, while Tabata’s hot streak would just make him a starter rather than a bench player.
Rios would be an upgrade, but the fact that there is any type of close comparison with Tabata doesn’t speak well. Rios is also owed $18 M through the 2014 season, which adds to the comparison. So the fact that Rios is the best outfielder out there doesn’t speak well about this trade market.
It’s the same with other positions. Kendrys Morales and Justin Morneau are the first basemen being talked about on the market. Matt Garza and Bud Norris are the top starting pitchers. You could argue that Garza is a top of the rotation guy, but he’s also a guy who has dealt with injuries the last two years, and never really has consistently put up top of the rotation numbers.
That’s not saying the Pirates don’t have a chance for an upgrade. It’s just that they aren’t going to find one massive upgrade that will solve all of the offensive problems. It’s more likely that they will find a Kendrys Morales type upgrade where they have a minor upgrade at one position, then force guys to the bench and in turn upgrade the bench. That’s not a bad approach, but it’s also not an exciting approach.
Links and Notes
**Download the newest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 13: What Are the Needs For the Pirates as the Deadline Nears?
**Episode 3 of the Pirates Roundtable can be viewed here. This week’s episode features James Santelli as the host, along with Ed Giles of In Clemente Weather, Michael Waterloo of Pittsburgh Sporting News, Steve Petrella of MLB.com, Cory of Three Rivers Burgh Blog, and Brian McElhinney of Raise The Jolly Roger.