2014 Statistics: 131 games, .280/.311/.398, 92 wRC+, 4 HR, 0.2 fWAR
2015 Age: 34
Position: Right handed corner outfielder
Last month the Rangers declined Alex Rios' $14 million team option for 2015, so it's pretty easy to say that there is a ceiling to his market value. After coming off of two three-plus win seasons in 2012 and 2013, Rios was absolutely dreadful in 2014, putting up a slash line of .280/.311/.398 (92 wRC+) and by all three WAR measures, he was worth less than one win in nearly a full season of play.
This is not to say that Rios is a bad player overall. At the age of 33, Rios has put up seven 2.0+ fWAR seasons. It isn't easy to be at least an average player for almost a decade. The problem is, though, that in between those seasons of decency there is absolute trash. He has had four seasons of less than 1.0 fWAR, and two seasons that were at or well below replacement level. Consistency and reliability are just as important as being good, and Rios has not been that over the past few years.
Here are Rios' wOBA marks over his career, and if you look over the past five years, you get the following wRC+'s: 109, 60, 126, 104, and 92. And even though I'm sure his true talent level is more closely aligned with the past two seasons, the point is that it's incredibly hard to tell which Alex Rios you will get over a full season.
Even beyond the point that it's pretty hard to peg what his true talent level truly is, it's worthy to note that whatever it may be, it's certainly getting worse. If we look at K%,
or BB% (which was never good to begin with),
or even ISO,
we get trends that are all heading in negative directions.
And the one strength he used to have, defense, is also deteriorating. In 2008, both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs had Rios as a 2.1 dWAR and +18.2 defender, respectively. Today that is probably not the case. While Baseball Prospectus' FRAA rates him as a +5.4 defender, both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference find him to be a negative.
In terms of the Yankees' needs, Rios is a square peg in a round hole. Given the age and outfield depth of the team, I don't see the need for a corner outfielder with below average offensive and defensive ability. It may work for a team that has an absolute black hole at a corner outfield position, but the Yankees are better off to stay the course on Carlos Beltran than to sink another few million dollars into what would be a risky venture. Of all the possible outfielders that the Yankees could possibly justify signing, this one is one of the least justifiable.