Posted on November 15, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Over the summer, Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale was theoretically available in a trade. Plenty of teams kicked the tires on the idea, but ultimately there were no serious talks. However, trade talk involving Sale is starting to pick, especially with White Sox GM Rick Hahn hinting that the team could engage in a full blown fire sale this winter. The Dodgers have unsurprisingly showed interest in Sale, as have the Nationals, and on Tuesday Jon Heyman reported that the Braves are also throwing their hate into the ring.
The White Sox have not engaged in any serious talks regarding Sale this offseason, but if they think they may trade him at some point, now may be the time. The lefty won 17 games and posted a 3.34 ERA in 2016. He’s also under a team-friendly contract in which he’ll make $38 million over the next three years, which is an absolute steal for what he does on the field. Between his performance, his contract, and a weak free agent class for starting pitchers, Sale could be worth a fortune on the free agent market, especially if multiple teams are after him.
The Dodgers typically show interest in any big-name player who may be available, and Sale is no exception. Los Angeles would love to pair Sale with Clayton Kershaw atop their rotation. There is even talk that the Dodgers and White Sox have discussed a blockbuster involving both Sale and third baseman Todd Frazier going to Los Angeles.
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Whether the Dodgers have enough to pull off such a trade is another question, although they do have promising young pitchers in Julio Urias and Jose De Leon who could go a long way towards making a deal happen. Yasiel Puig could also be an interesting trade chip for the Dodgers to use this winter. Los Angeles also has six prospects that MLB.com ranks among the top 100, including De Leon, so the Dodgers may indeed have enough to pull off such a massive deal.
Meanwhile, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke recently about his desire to add pitching this offseason. Washington has several young pitchers they could use to land Sale in a trade, including Joe Ross, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Erick Fedde. The Nationals may have to part with at least two of those pitchers to acquire Sale, but such a deal would give them a trio of Sale, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg atop their rotation. Rizzo was reluctant to part with his young starters over the summer, but he could make an exception if it means getting Sale.
Finally, the Braves entering the Sale picture could be a game-changer, as Atlanta has one of the best farm systems in baseball. A deal for Sale would likely start with either Dansby Swanson or Ozzie Albies, with the Braves capable of offering a number of pitching prospects on top of that, including four who are among the top 100 prospects in baseball. If the Braves wanted to, they could theoretically offer a better package of prospects than just about any team in baseball, which makes their connection to Sale a fascinating twist in the story.
Of course, there’s nothing to suggest that the White Sox have had advanced talks with any team about Sale. By all accounts, Chicago is still deciding whether they want to reload for 2017 or begin a rebuilding project. But if the White Sox are being honest with themselves, it may be time to rebuild, and trading Sale this winter could be the perfect way to start that process.