The Chicago White Sox regressed in 2016 and appear to be going nowhere fast, which continues to fuel the ever growing Chris Sale trade rumors. Chicago’s top arm was already in the rumor mill in 2015, and many were relatively shocked he wasn’t moved.
Chris Sale Rumors Run Wild
It’s still no guarantee Sale is traded ahead of the 2017 MLB season, as the White Sox still hold club options through 2019. However, Sale had a bit of a down 2016 campaign by his standards and now could be the time to jump on his strong trade value. The 27-year old lefty still holds elite strikeout ability and managed to post a palatable 17-10 record with a mediocre White Sox team a year ago. In the right situation, he could still be argued as the game’s top arm.
Regardless of which side you land on that debate, the reality remains that the White Sox appear to be shopping Chris Sale. Per report, several MLB teams seem to be standing above the rest in trade talks. Jon Heyman of FanRagSports pointed out the alleged trade talk leaders, with the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Los Angels Dodgers looking like the best guesses.
Heyman also took to Twitter to note Sale’s insane price, which figures to be even steeper than it was last year:
Hearing Chris Sale price tag still high. “Maybe even higher” than in july. Still, there’s hope for a winter meeting auction
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 25, 2016
The constant theme with anyone looking at the Chris Sale trade rumors hasn’t just been which top teams will trade for him. It hasn’t even been necessarily what they’ve been willing to give up. It’s more about who they probably don’t want to give up to land Sale.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke down a few “untouchable” MLB stars that could very well be the key to turning Chris Sale trade rumors into a reality:
Want Chris Sale? Trade one of these untouchables. Column:… https://t.co/lK0gyIpsth
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2016
Chicago can afford to push the envelope in trade talks, too. Sale is in his prime, he’s under team control for another three seasons and he can completely revitalize just about any team’s defense. Add an ace this talented to a pitching rotation that is already solid or even dominant, and you might have a one-way ticket to the World Series.
No one wants to give up too much to land an ace, but Sale is a special circumstance and a special player. Eventually someone will bite, and it could be fairly costly. As we’ve noted, several teams remain in the mix, but there are five that probably stand out above the rest.
- Boston Red Sox
- Washington Nationals
- Houston Astros
- Texas Rangers
- New York Yankees
These are easy sells. Boston is just some killer pitching away from making a deep run, the Nats might be one more ace away from inching further in the playoffs and both the Astros and Rangers could use one more ace to push their defense over the top. All of those teams have some appealing young talent they could dangle, too.
The Nats don’t feel inclined to give away Trea Turner, but they have some fantastic veteran hitting they could shop, as well as some appealing young pitchers – namely Reynaldo Lopez. Houston’s issue continues to be their erratic pitching, and landing Sale would net them that one true ace and allow their other quality pitchers to fall in line. It’d likely take a haul, though, and it’s arguable the inefficient power they have at their disposal wouldn’t sway the White Sox enough.
Boston feels like the big play here. David Ortiz is gone, but they still boast one of the strongest (and deepest) offenses in the league. They have a litany of quality offensive pieces that could be placed in a trade for Sale, including the coveted Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada. It also could be open for debate if they’d let talent like Jackie Bradley, Travis Shaw and/or Brock Holt go to open up spots for their young guys, while also reeling in Sale.
Then, like always, there are the Yankees.
New York may not be the top spot right now (some really love the Dodgers or Braves), but the Yanks have a ton of young talent they could dangle. Their youth movement late last year actually almost led to a surprise playoff run, while their need for top shelf pitching is more prevalent than ever. It doesn’t sound like the Yanks are enamored with the idea of unloading either Gary Sanchez or Aaron Judge, but perhaps one could be packaged with some minor league talent or a steady prospect like Greg Bird. Veteran outfielders Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury couldn’t be ruled out with the team going younger, either.
Chris Sale Prediction
One of two things are ultimately happening with Chris Sale this season: nothing or he’s going to Boston. In the end the Dodgers are already stacked and I don’t think they’ll part with enough to get Sale. The Braves are hungry for elite pitching and have made some nice moves, but don’t have the assets to pull it off, either.
The Astros, Rangers, Yankees and Nats (among others) are obviously in the running, but the team that needs Sale, wants Sale and has the pieces to actually get him seems to be Boston. The Red Sox already have some fantastic pitching and they have the offensive upside and depth to withstand a couple of bats moving to Chicago.
Chris Sale could be traded anywhere or he could perhaps not be traded at all. If he gets unloaded this season, however, we like Boston as his ultimate destination.