Rangers have leverage in trade discussions for Soria, Rios

Yesterday, Jon Heyman wrote about Texas's plans on the trade front: 

The Texas Rangers are conducting a sale of some premium players and are involved in discussions concerning very good players, such as re-emerging bullpen talent Joakim Soria and .300-hitting outfielder Alex Rios. But stars Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre and very likely even cornerstone shortstop Elvis Andrus, too, won't be going anywhere.

This has more or less been my stance for the last month; well, it's less a stance than an assumption I found most rational. It makes sense for the front office to shed their loose ends, but it's contingent on the context. About a month ago I mentioned Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts being likely Rangers to be moved -- since they will both be free agents at the end of the season -- but in recent days/weeks that duo has doubled into a quartet.

It isn't a certainty, but odds are likelier than not that Joakim Soria and Alex Rios will be moved, even in spite of Rios's newly-banged-up ankle

At the moment, 17 out of 30 MLB teams have a record of .500 or better, meaning the list of suitors for Soria -- the best relief pitcher on the market -- won't be in short supply leading up to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Joakim has been utterly dominant in 2014, as his 43:3 K/UIBB ratio in 31.1 IP is otherworldly. He's looked like 2013 Koji Uehara.

With Joakim Soria, the Rangers' front office has a few things working for them in trade discussions:

1) They are looking to compete in 2015, so they don't have to trade him.

2) Soria has a reasonable $7 million option next season, so the Rangers aren't only selling the last two months of this year; the acquiring team would also own his rights for 2015.

3) Sort of a combination of 1) and 2), but the Rangers can leverage to other clubs the idea that they look to be good next season, that Soria's 2015 option is cheap enough for them to afford, so they don't have to do anything. 

Just because the Rangers aren't in it this year doesn't mean anyone has a gun to their head in trade talks. 

Similarly, Alex Rios also has an affordable 2015 option ($13.5 million), so Texas could, in theory, operate in trade discussions the same way they would Soria. 

Rios has been a valuable regular in 143 games with the Rangers over the last two years. In 588 plate appearances he's hit at a respectable .294/.325/.442 (104 wRC+) clip with 10 HRs and 32 SBs, and is generally regarded as an above-average outfielder defensively. (For the record, UZR has Rios at -5.0 runs in 2014, and DRS has him at -7. Make of that what you will.)

However, unlike Joakim Soria, the market for Rios figures to be more precise. Heyman mentions "the Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays and Royals among teams that fit," but at this point it's unclear the caliber of prospect will get in return. 

As an outsider, I picture not very much. The thing is, the Rangers essentially received Alex Rios as a salary dump last year from the White Sox -- all Chicago got in return was Leury Garcia, a second-division middle infielder -- so literally anything better than Garcia is a net-gain for Texas. Rios isn't going to attract a starting pitcher of any consequence, but if the Rangers could scrape out a low-level prospect with upside, it would make clever usage from a guy who probably wouldn't be going anywhere if the Rangers were any good in 2014. 

Jon Daniels has been adament this week that he doesn't intend to break up this current unit, saying "we're not looking to tear the team down by any stretch... we're looking forward to building it back up," so to read that Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish and Elvis Andrus aren't going anywhere isn't a surprise. Especially from Jon Heyman, who is basically a mouthpiece for super-agent Scott Boras, who represents Beltre and Andrus. 

Current odds of Rangers being traded, per me:

Neal Cotts -- 10:9

Alex Rios -- 3:2

Joakim Soria -- 5:3

Adrian Beltre -- 25:1

Elvis Andrus -- 30:1

Yu Darvish -- 1,000:1