The Arrival of De Aza

By R.J. Anderson //

The White Sox made a big trade on Wednesday, moving Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays for Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart. Shortly after announcing the trade, the White Sox went on to reveal that Alex Rios would be benched in favor of Alejandro De Aza, thus, leaving Rios owners across the land wondering whether they should ditch Rios in favor of De Aza. It’s an unfortunate, but real scenario to ponder.

Let’s start with the basics. Rios is heading to the pine because he is in the midst of a hellacious season. Through 384 plate appearances, he is hitting .208/.255/.300 with only six home runs and eight stolen bases. This from a guy who hit 21 home runs and had 34 stolen bases in 2010. Rios’ power production this season looks a lot like what he did in 2004, but back then he was walking and hitting more singles than he is now.  It’s unclear what Rios’ future holds with the White Sox, as he is signed through the 2014 season with an annual average salary over $12 million.

The White Sox recalled De Aza on Wednesday and threw him into their starting lineup immediately. He hit .322/.378/.494 in Triple-A while adding nine home runs and 22 stolen bases. De Aza is probably a new name to many, but this will mark his fourth season with some time in the majors, as back in 2007 and 2009 he saw action with the Marlins, and he appeared in 19 games for the White Sox last season. In 217 big league plate appearances, he owns a line of .242/.286/.325.

That’s not an inspiring effort, but to De Aza’s credit, he has always hit well in Triple-A, with a cumulative .309/.372/.479 offering in 1,100 plate appearances. Some of that came in the Pacific Coast League, which is notorious for inflating offensive statistics, but over the last two seasons he has spent time improving his craft in the Independent League. His game is about contact and speed, and he has at least 20 doubles in each of the last three seasons too.

De Aza isn’t a sure thing to replicate his minor league performances, so tread carefully. If you are a Rios owner, then picking up his replacement might be a smart choice. After all, between the unclear playing time and nasty results so far this season, Rios is unlikely to be scooped up by anyone else in the interim.

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