There are a lot of things to like about Edwin Rios aside from the fact that he gave my then 5-year-old son a bat in Springdale while he was with Tulsa. I am interested in his power and the fact that he is blocked in the Dodgers organization at two positions the Royals have needs. First base and third base. Rios can play some LF but that is a stretch as he has only spent 11 games in the outfield over the last year.
Rios has slowed down as he’s aged. He is only 25 and made his MLB debut last season. Rios has below average speed and needs to improve on his defense at third base but he has a strong arm and the defense is more than adequate to play first. He was a shortstop his freshman year in college before moving to third.
Rios produces consistent and hard contact to all fields. He has what some call elite power. During the 2018 season in Tulsa, I watched him hit a ball out to right center over the bullpen on a day when no one else got 40 feet from the warning track. His power is legit and he showed it to me that day.
Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger (when he plays first), and Matt Beatty are all in front of Rios in Los Angeles. Those guys create a formidable road block. In Kansas City, we have an opening at third base and a platoon of Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom at first. Cheslor Cuthbert will likely be non-tendered by the Royals leaving Kelvin Gutierrez as the only current roster competition at third. Adding the left-handed hitting Rios would give the Royals a probably starter at one of the two corners who can hit for average and power.
Rios does strike out more than he should but that is more acceptable in today’s game. His splits are fairly consistent but the edge goes to hitting against RHPs. Rios hit .271/.350/.600 against RHPs and .272/.336/.515 against LHPs in Oklahoma City last season. Rios doesn’t walk enough but his on-base ability and power will play in the Royals lineup.
My idea is to trade for Rios and give him a realistic shot to win the third base job in big league camp. If he can’t do it, let him compete to win the first base job instead. The competition can only be a positive thing for the Royals.
Of course, if the Royals decided to sign Rendon, the trade for Rios would just be competition for first base and depth for third base. I would slot Rios in the six or seven hole with the current Royals lineup being Mondesi, Whit, Dozier, Soler, and Salvy. O’Hearn/McBroom may hit 6 in this lineup with Rios right behind them. Starling could hit eighth and Lopez would hit ninth.
Image from milb.com and taken by Joshua Tjiong.