Is It Time to Let Edwin Rios Shine?

If there’s one thing Dodger fans know, it’s that Los Angeles will be tied to every big free agent and possible trade candidate out there this winter. Despite having just won the World Series and having one of the top teams again going into the 2021 season, there is always room for improvement.

The Dodgers are perennially tied to the Francisco Lindor trade rumors, despite having Corey Seager on the team. Last week, we discussed if the Dodgers should pursue a trade with the Chicago Cubs for Kris Bryant or Yu Darvish. And the hottest rumor right now is that the Dodgers are still big fans of hometown guy and boyhood fan Nolan Arenado.

The reason the Dodgers are tied to all of these players is that of this moment, the Boys in Blue do not have a starting third baseman. Defacto Captain Justin Turner is now a free agent, and there does not seem to be any rumors of a reunion between JT and the Dodgers.

As we all know, 2020 was unlike any other season that we’ve ever seen, with no fans in attendance and a reduced schedule. All this led to a much reduced income for all major teams, and as such, teams will likely be stingy with their free agent signings and more thoughtful about their trades.

So what if the Dodgers don’t do anything and give the starting job to Edwin Rios?

In the abbreviated 2020 season, Rios made the Opening Day and Postseason rosters. He hit eight home runs in 32 games for the Dodgers. He also swatted six doubles with a .250/.301/.645/.946 slash line. No doubt some consistent playing time would be beneficial.

The tall 27 year old has a .923 fielding percentage at third, but again, this could be something that improves with more playing time. Between his 2019 and 2020 seasons, Rios reduced his ground ball percentage from 46.2% to 33.9%. His fly ball rate also increased 21%. 14 of his 18 hits in 2020 were for extra bases.

Fangraphs and Dan Szymorski have recently released Rios’s ZiPS projection for the 2021 season. They predict him to hit 24 home runs, 20 doubles, and 76 RBI over 429 plate appearances. Rios would definitely need to work on his strikeout and walk rates. He seems to be only two of the three true outcome rule, home runs and strikeouts.

If the Dodgers don’t make any other major additions between now and next season, Rios would presumably be seeing the majority of time at the hot corner. Chris Taylor would pick up some games, as could Max Muncy in a pinch.

The Dodgers have hung on to Rios mainly for his bat, not including him in any recent trade packages. Because Rios bats from the left side, sticking with him at third would not procure the Dodgers the big right-handed bat they desire. But now could be the time to let him shine and show what he could do. Not making a big free agent signing or trade could also leave open more opportunities to extend or re-sign Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Walker Buehler.

The Dodgers have relied on their farm system moving up through the ranks, and for the most part, their farm system has become the core of the team. The emergence of Rios could be another example of that happening.

 

21 thoughts on “Is It Time to Let Edwin Rios Shine?

  1. I am a firm believer with regular play, Rios could become a superstar. He might never be a gold glover, but he worked very hard to improve and said the example set by Mookie inspired him to work harder.His power is a given. He cuts down the K’s some, he would be way more dangerous than Turner.

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  2. I think Rios has proved he is a valuable bench piece. Yes, he will hit home runs, but he will always strikeout a bunch and while he has worked hard on his defense, he will never be even average defensively and have below average range. Seems like a good guy, but superstar potential, I don’t think so. It would be better to sign Turner for two more years and have Rios to back home up. Or, acquire Arenado with his gold glove and power bat from the right side and again have Rios as a bench piece.

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  3. I agree with you Gary that Rios will probably always strike out too much, but I do think that with more reps he can become a good third baseman. Whether he will get those reps in a Dodger uni I have no idea. He could ultimately spend time at third, first or DH so there is reason to think he could have a good career here, but others are behind him or with other teams who could ultimately take his place. That decision will be Andrew’s.

    All I know is that there are few swings more beautiful than his with that beautiful follow through as the ball sales out over the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Defending World Champs don’t need to go into Spring Training with Rios and Lux BOTH as possible starters. Too much of a gamble for two unproven prospects. To have another run at a championship will require more than that. I don’t have the answers but this scenario isn’t the answer in my opinion.

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  5. Give Rios a chance. He does have a beautiful swing. But also do sign Turner to a two year contract for anywhere between $18M and $24M. He was making $16M/yr on his last contract, $9M to $12M on this contract seems about right, he deserves it.

    About Rios, yes he deserves a shot, but as usual Friedman has given the Dodgers lots of potential options in house for third. Rios, Seager, Hoese, Busch, Muncy, and Smith to name a few. Options lots of options.

    I just don’t see any major trades being made for third base. Too expensive in prospects and dollars. Dollars could be better spent on pitching and extending our young studs.

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  6. Morton signs with the Braves for 1 year and 15 million. Braves have struck first in the free agent market and starters seem to be the theme for them. I expect little movement until after Dec 2nd when the non tender list is seen. Should be an interesting and busy winter meeting.

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    1. Should be a VERY interesting Winter Meeting. Rosenthal says the Astros are listening on Correa and the Reds are listening on Sonny Gray. We know the Rays are at least taking calls on Snell. Suddenly it doesn’t look so boring out there.

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  7. I was surprised to hear snell was available, he really rose to the occasion in the WS. Can’t see the Dodgers going after him, but it’s nice to dream about an ace quality pitcher who is under contract for 3 years at 39 mil. I can’t imagine what the price in prospects is going to be for him.

    I know Rios has potential, and I’m probably wrong, but I think with those strike out numbers, he’s going to be the next Joc Pedersen, a great from the left side platoon player who can knock the ball out of the park, or strike out. I’d love to be wrong though.

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    1. Only a very small sample size so far (about 125 at bats) but Rios actually has reverse splits, hitting lefties quite a bit better than righties. I’m not nearly as concerned about what arm a pitcher will use against him as I am with his strike outs. His reputation is as a very hard worker who has improved his fielding quite a bit so I’m hoping with some more effort he can cut down on his k’s and possibly be a very effective every day player. That said, I still would like to see JT back here as well.

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  8. Just another thought on Snell and the Rays. Has any pitcher the Rays traded away, ever done well After they were traded? Price has done ok at best, he did help the bosox win a WS, but was mediocre the rest of that season, and Archer has stunk since he was moved. Maybe there should be a “buyer beware” sticker on any trade the Rays make.

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  9. Hey Jeff, any ideas about predictions the shlemmings can make, For the off season, we’ve got to find something to get bear fired up about😀

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    1. Bear is getting way too mellow in his old age Keith. He has really warmed a little to AF so it just isn’t as much fun to yank his chain as it used to be, although I’m thinking this comment will probably bring him out of his den with at least a moderate sized roar.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Schlemmings lemmings, same animal. Follow the pack over the cliff. Turner has been contacted by the Jays. I think Ryu would love to have him there. And most of the Schlemming picks are nothing but pure fantasy anyway. That roar big enough????

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  10. Do we know when the NL will decide on the DH, for 2021? If they decide yes, then signing JT makes great sense, he can DH and occasionally play some 3B, 1B and even 2B ( he plays there on the shift and does have experience there). But to me, extending Corey Seager should be priority One. I would think that with so many top SS’s hitting free agents, this year and next, it has to affect Boras leverage to some extent. $200M over 8 years? Assuming that got done, we have the prospects to trade for Arenado. The one drawback would be the Rockies reluctance to trade within the division. But, I’ve read that he can basically pick the team he goes to, he’s from LA and grew up a Dodger fan, wants to win and how many teams other than the Dodgers can afford his contract. Of course it would have to be stipulated that he forego any opt out. The experts think, the Rockies really want to extend Story and cannot afford two contracts toward $30M per year. What will it take? I would think something like #2 Keibert Ruiz, #3 Kody Hoese , #22 Edwin Uceta and Tony Gonsolin. The other elephant in the room is the Pandemic and will it affect Spring Training and the MLB and minors seasons?
    Lineup for 2021:
    Betts RF
    Seager SS
    Arenado 3B
    Bellinger CF
    Smith C
    Muncey 1B
    Pollock LF
    Lux 2B

    Bench: Barnes, Taylor, Rios, Beaty and JT (especially with DH), McKinstry

    Pitching wise, gonna need to save $ somewhere, so supplement relief core with young guys and can probably get by considering how good this offense will be.

    Rotation:
    Kershaw
    Buehler
    Urias
    May
    Price
    Pen:
    Jansen
    Graterol
    Floro
    Kelly
    Gonzalez
    Alexander
    Kolarek
    White/Santana

    Maybe bring Treinen back.

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    1. That will not be decided until MLB and the MLBPA meet. Players want it, MLB is trying to negotiate extended playoffs for the players to get it. Something they are lukewarm on, but the owners love.

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  11. Wow Gary, so much to talk about in your post, so here goes:
    1) No definite date on when the DH will be decided, but I believe both the owners and players need to agree to it. I would think the NL GM’s must be screaming that they need to know quickly because it certainly affects free agent signings and trades. Word is that continuing of expanded playoffs will be part of that negotiation (owners definitely want that so players will use it as a bargaining chip).
    2) Extending Seager – Boras might decide that he can do better for Seager this year than he could next year when he’ll have to compete against Baez, Story, Correa and Lindor. If Corey really wants to stay here, I think it’s possible that they could work something out this winter, but he might need some assurance that they won’t just move him to third in the next couple of years, and being from North Carolina he or his wife might prefer being closer to home.
    3) Trade for Arenado – that’s an interesting package you put together but if we give them those guys they’re going to have to throw in some cash or agree to take some contracts back. We could start with Kelly’s.
    4) Bullpen – I’d like to see us sign two of the following: Hendricks, Hand, Colome, Trevor May, Rosenthal, Treinen, O’Day. I read this morning that AF has not shown any interest in Hendricks to this point. Maybe that’s because he’ll get the best reliever contract out there and Andrew figures that signing relievers is just a crap shoot anyway.
    5) Nice lineup you’ve got there. It would look even better with JT as the DH.

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    1. Well the main reason the Rockies would trade Arenado, is to reduce costs, so I don’t expect them to pay much,if any. So maybe one less player gets it done.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Betts was fantasy until he became reality. Took them a while to complete that deal. That being said, with all of the uncertainty as to will fans be back in the seats early enough to stave off a real financial loss, who knows. Teams are not going to pay significant dollars until they get some frippen idea of what will be happening. I do not see AF going to far overboard and spending a bunch of case. Now, could he take on some contracts and get rid of others? He could. Question is, does he want to. I would love to see Arenado in Dodger blue for 2 reasons. 1 He is a offensive upgrade over Turner. 2. He is the BEST defensive 3rd baseman in EITHER league. Will it happen? Well if I believed the fantasy, it could. Unfortunately I live in Colorado and I can tell you unequivocally that if the Rockies did that, the fan base would revolt and the loss in revenue to a team that already does not draw that great would put them in a serious bind. Fans are pissed off enough here that they are talking about trading Story because they doubt they could afford to keep him, and they want to unload Arenado because they are really concerned he will opt out. Something he would not do if he was in LA. But they HATE the Dodgers here. Trading with one of your biggest rivals would be viewed as treason. Arozarena arrested in Mexico. Domestic abuse and kidnapping possible charges.

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  12. Bear, you have a good point about management/ ownership Possibly not wanting to spend to much until their revenue streams are more predictable. I’m usually from the side that believes the owners have plenty of money, but choose profits over winning, but even I wouldn’t blame the Dodgers ownership for not expanding the budget, to pay some of the major FAs, or big name/money trade options.

    That’s is a shame about Arozarena. It baffles me when something like this happens with some of these guys. They work their butts off for years to get to the big leagues, then just piss it away like that. I know it’s innocent until proven guilty, but those are very serious charges, it’s hard to believe the police messed it up, so I’m going with that it probably did happen.

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  13. Great post Bear. Lots of issues to consider on Arenado. Will Rockies fans be any more pissed than Redsox fans were? Will Rockies fans be pissed at Management if Arenado walks and they get nothing in return?

    On Arozarena, Wow!

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