UPDATE: 5:12 P.M.: Cross the Mariners off the list of potential claimants for Alex Rios. I’ve been assured it’s not them.
Chris Woodward is joining the hottest pennant race in baseball.
The veteran infielder, designated for assignment by the Mariners on Tuesday when Adrian Beltre was activated, was claimed off waivers today by the Red Sox. Pitcher Billy Traber was designated for assignment to make room for Woodward, who is well known by Red Sox personnel from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Speaking of the Blue Jays, there was a very interesting development revealed today, with word leaking out from ESPN’s Buster Olney that Toronto outfielder Alex Rios was claimed on waivers by a mystery team. The Jays can still pull him back, or work out a trade with the claiming team. Or they could just say, “He’s all yours” — and let the claiming team take over the six years remaining on Rios’s seven-year, $69.35 million contract. That’s how the Jays rid themselves of Randy Myers’ oppressive contract over a decade ago, with the Padres paying a huge price (about $15 million) for an ill-advised waiver claim).
I know what you’re thinking — could the claiming team be the Mariners? I haven’t had a chance to get an official (or unofficial) denial, but I would be absolutely shocked if they risked taking on the nearly $60 million still owed Rios — $9.7 million next year, $12 million in 2011, $12 million in ’12, $12.5 million in ’13, and $12.5 million in ’14, with a $1 million buyout on a club option to pay $13.5 million in ’15. That doesn’t seem a particularly wise investment for a right-handed hitter that has been good, but not great, particularly with Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley on the way.
There’s a lot of buzz that the claiming team is the Giants, which makes a lot of sense. They think that with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain anchoring their rotation, they have a real shot to go deep into the playoffs if they can only get there. Their weakness is offense, and GM Brian Sabean has already added Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko. Rios would be another nice piece, although at a high financial cost. Legend has it that the Giants once considered trading Lincecum for Rios. If that’s true, I’ll bet they thank their lucky stars every night they didn’t pull the trigger.