Rangers trade rumors: Alex Rios is still a Ranger, as of right now, but that could change in the next 36 hours (or in the next 36 minutes, for that matter).
And adding to the intrigue is Ken Rosenthal saying that the Rangers are willing to eat some money on Rios's contract:
Talks for Rios could go to end. Several of interested clubs - CLE, CIN, KC, SF - fading of late. #Rangers willing to include cash in deal.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2014
While this could mean the Rangers don't want Rios back next year, and are willing to subsidize his existing contract just to find someone to take him off their hands and save them some money right now, it seems more likely that they are trying to get a better return from teams that have budget limitations. The Toronto Blue Jays, for example, have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Rios, and also have, according to reports, limited money available to spend.
Rios is owed around $4 million for the rest of the season, and the Rangers could be faced with a decision to either trade Rios and get little in return, or trade him, pay, say, $3 million of what he's owed the rest of the year, and get a decent prospect back.
Between the trade of Joakim Soria, and the insurance money that will be forthcoming on the Matt Harrison and Prince Fielder deals, the Rangers are going to be under budget this year in terms of major league payroll this year, although that doesn't take into account the anticipated drop in revenue resulting from the team being terrible. With rumors swirling about the possibility that payroll could be stagnant, or even decrease, next year, it may put the Rangers in a position where they are counting pennies, and need to dump Rios now in order to have an extra $4 million potentially available for next year.
On the other hand, the Rangers have made it clear that they expect to contend in 2015, and they are going to need to fortify their starting pitching in order to make that happen. While they could pursue Jon Lester or James Shields this offseason, a more likely avenue would seem to be the trade market, and thus Texas may want to subsidize the Rios deal in order to get more trade chips to put them in a stronger position to make a trade for an impact starting pitcher this winter.
So we watch and we wait, and we should know something in the next 36 hours.