The Toronto Blue Jays liked Alex Rios, but they liked the money his departure would free up even more, which is why the struggling two-time all-star is now a member of the Chicago White Sox.

General manager J.P. Ricciardi allowed Rios to be claimed off waivers by the Sox yesterday, receiving nothing in return other than some bottom-line relief for a player recently considered one of the franchise’s cornerstones.

“Do we take the financial flexibility in a time when the game is changing, or do we retake the player and try to address some of our needs?” Ricciardi said of the decision he was facing. “We like the player, but it’s just a situation where the contract for us, it enables us to do different things.”

The team has denied it is in cost-cutting mode.

Rios signed a seven-year contract with the Blue Jays in April 2008 that guarantees him $69,835,000. He was due $5.9 million this season, $9.7 million in 2010, $12 million each in 2011 and 2012 and $12.5 million apiece in 2013 and 2014.

Rios showed up at Yankee Stadium for last night’s game in New York and saw his name in the starting lineup only to leave a few hours later. “I’d heard the rumours,” Rios said. “Stuff happens, and I just have to move on.”