18:37: Ríos is guaranteed $1MM in the deal, reports ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (Twitter link).
18:24: The Cubs have signed the corner infielder Edwin Rios to a major league contract, tweets Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun-Times. pain relieving ethan roberts he was placed on the 60-day disabled list to open up a spot on the 40-man roster. Rios is represented by Excel Sports Management.
Rios, 28, has played in each of the last four MLB seasons as a member of the Dodgers. He hasn’t made more than 32 appearances in an individual season, a testament to both the depth of Los Angeles’ position players and Rios’ personal injury history. The left-handed hitter has spent time on the disabled list in each of the past three seasons. He missed some time in 2020 with a strained left hamstring and has missed significant portions of the past two years with respective injuries to his right shoulder and right hamstring.
Those illnesses have interrupted what has been a promising start to Rios’ major league career. He has 20 home runs, nine doubles and one triple in just 292 plate appearances. A high 32% strikeout rate has worked against his batting average and on-base percentage (respectively .219 and .299), but he owns a very strong .492 slugging percentage against MLB pitchers. That burst of power included seven players back and forth in 27 games last season.
Ríos has been a quality offensive player during an even bigger job at Triple-A. Through parts of four seasons at the highest level of the minor leagues, the Florida International product has a terrific .282/.349/.526 line with a decent 8.2% walk rate but a sluggish percentage. 31.1% strikeout rate in just under 1,200 plate appearances. Rios’ bat-to-ball skills are questionable, but there’s no question that he has significant power.
That production intrigued the Cubs enough to guarantee him a spot on the major league roster. The Dodgers had not offered him at the start of the offseason, and LA opted not to keep him with a projected salary by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz around $1.4MM. The financial terms of his deal with Chicago are not known, though he surely is a low base salary. The most significant development is that he won’t have to work his way up the 40-man roster.
Ríos still has a minor league option year left. The Cubs can keep him in Triple-A Iowa for next season, though there’s a path to securing regular playing time in the majors as well. Chicago’s third base situation is shaky, with patrick wisdom, Christopher Morel and Nick Madrigal among those who could compete for replays.
Wisdom, a right-handed hitter, has been the primary option at hot corner for the past two years. He has slugged .533 against left-handed pitching in that time, but posted a .209/.290/.438 line against righties. That makes him a potential platoon fit for the lefty Ríos. Morel and Madrigal also hit from the right side, but could take on multi-position roles off the bench and/or return to the minors in an optional assignment.
If Rios lands a big role and sticks with it, he could be a long-term piece of Chicago’s infield. He has just over three years of Major League service. He will be eligible for arbitration at least two more times after this season, and any optional stint in the minors could extend that window of control for an additional season.
Roberts, 25, pitched in nine games last year after coming out of camp as a rookie. He eventually landed himself on the shelf with shoulder inflammation and required Tommy John surgery last June. It’s possible he’ll return from that procedure at the end of the season, but there’s no chance he would have been ready in the first two months. His placement in IL was a mere formality whenever the need for a spot on the list arose. He will be paid MLB’s minimum rate and will accrue major league service time while he rehabilitates.