Trade speculation is one of the core activities of a sports fan. Listen to any sports radio show this time of year and you’ll hear fans calling in designing trade scenarios that range from the plausible to the cartoonishly absurd. Growing up in the New York area, I got to listen to WFAN and hear fans calling in suggesting the Yankees dump their garbage for other teams’ stars. “Let’s trade Sterling Hitchcock and Karim Garcia for Grady Sizemore!” you’d hear the callers insist in 2003.

At the risk of sounding like one of those callers, let’s kill some time over the All Star Break by looking at potential trade destinations for Alex Rios. Once we’ve figured that out, we’ll have an idea of what the White Sox might be able to ask for in exchange for Rios.

A number of teams are obviously sellers, some look like they’ll be competing for the playoffs all the way down to the wire, and then the rest occupy some sort of grey area. Sizing up the standings, run differentials, and rosters, the teams that are clearly competing are, give or take:

Boston, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, New York (AL), Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, Texas, Atlanta, Washington, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Arizona, and Los Angeles (NL).

Then there are the grey area teams that could conceivably force their way back in with a huge second half, are already so pot-committed that they might as well keep pushing for this season, or are just…not run very well and can’t identify when they’re beaten. Those are:

Toronto, Kansas City, Los Angeles (AL), Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Colorado.

Yes, that’s 20 teams, although with the new playoffs half of them will actually make it in. The expanded playoffs are helpful to selling teams in the sense that it makes for more potential buyers, which increases a seller’s leverage. So let’s start whittling down that list to get to our potential trade partners for the White Sox.

Some of those teams aren’t looking for outfielders – and remember as we go through them that any team that acquires Rios isn’t just trying to shoehorn him in for the next two months, they’ll be committed to him for $13 million in 2014 (this figure is ratcheted up from $12.5 million, as a trade would trigger a clause in his contract), and at least a $1 million buyout in 2015.

Boston has Ellsbury-Victorino and then a perfectly good platoon of Carp-Nava-Gomes. They probably won’t be interested in Rios. Baltimore is set with Renaissance McLouth-Jones-Markakis. The Rays have their outfield pretty much set with Wil Myers holding his own, and they’re not going to want to take on big salaries anyway.

Oakland won’t want to add big dollars either, and they’re fine with Cespedes and Reddick in the corners and Crisp/Young in center. Washington has Harper-Span-Werth and absolutely isn’t in the market for an outfielder.

Between the phobia of intradivisional trading and the emergence of Matt Tuiasosopo, the Tigers aren’t a likely destination. The Indians have the same intradivisional caveat, probably can’t take on that much money, are more likely to be looking for pitching, and can probably get by with Drew Stubbs out there.