As of this moment, Alex Rios finds himself on the frontpage of the MLB section on ESPN.com. Now that Vernon Wells signed that Hugh Jazz contract, the attention has shifted towards Rios, who appears to be the most likely Blue Jay to be traded this offseason. Richard Griffin also adds fuel to the fire in today's Toronto Star:
It would require, at minimum, Rios as an enticement to wrest Brad Penny from the Dodgers or to get Jon Lieber from the Phillies as mid-rotation additions, but there are other, cheaper, more reasonable options to fill out the Jays' pitching staff, replacing Ted Lilly, that would allow Ricciardi to keep his already thin outfield together.
The Oakland A's, whose GM Billy Beane is Ricciardi's best friend in baseball and his former boss, loves young, cheap talent from other teams' farm systems. In his rotation, Beane has some interchangeable parts, like Dan Haren and Joe Blanton and, a notch below them, Kirk Saarloos, a teammate of Johnson's at Cal-Star Fullerton.
The Dodgers would seem to have starting excess now that they have signed Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf to join Penny and Derek Lowe. Ricciardi was asked if something might be done to solve the next problem by, say, Christmas.
"No, no, no, no," Ricciardi said. "I think this would be something -- if we can get it, which is going to be hard to do -- that might go right up to spring training."
I'm not opposed to trading anyone, since what ultimately matters is the net value of the trade. With that said, I think it'd be very difficult to trade Rios for a fair amount in return, if only because his stock, from what I gather, isn't as high as it should be. On the other hand, though, last season might have been an aberration and it'd be wise of J.P. to trade him this offseason. While I think his first half was certainly an aberration -- based on his inability to work the count to his liking, his low walk rate, and his abnormally-high BABIP -- it definitely appears that he took a step forward last season. Furthermore, his defensive value is rather high, fueled partly by his strong arm.