A sure sign that the White Sox finally are ready to consider trading ace Chris Sale: They have scheduled 40 throwback jersey dates for their 2017 home schedule. In all seriousness, the franchise seemingly has accepted the fact that a rebuild is necessary, meaning even the 27-year-old ace is available.
And the interest in a guy with five straight top-six finishes (four straight in the top five) in the AL Cy Young Award voting is understandably sky-high. But these seven destinations make the most sense for Sale:
Washington has been a logical destination for a while now – FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reports the Nationals remain interested – and the uncertainty surrounding Stephen Strasburg makes it even more imperative that the team shops for rotation help. But do the Nationals have the prospects and/or the payroll flexibility to make a deal?
Another team that has long had interest in Sale, Los Angeles still is trying to replace Zack Greinke as the 1B to Clayton Kershaw’s 1A. And Sale would more than fill that description. The Dodgers certainly have the resources to make a deal happen, though it should be noted that Sale is owed only $38 million over the next three seasons.
There were rumblings of a possible deal prior to the nonwaiver deadline this past summer, but the White Sox’s reported asking price (Mookie Betts, among others) was understandably high. Betts isn’t going anywhere, but the Red Sox are loaded with young talent that could be used to create a three-headed monster of Sale, Rick Porcello and David Price.
New York’s rotation currently includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia … and several question marks. The Yankees have done a solid job of restocking their farm system and could cash in a few of those chips in a deal for Sale. This team isn’t far from being a serious contender, and the addition of the big lefty would be a huge statement.
Texas needs to bolster the back end of its rotation behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, and Chris Sale would be one heck of a way to address that need. The Rangers also have multiple needs on offense – and probably would have to sacrifice at least one young player in their starting lineup (Rougned Odor? Nomar Mazara?) to pry away Sale – but perhaps they are willing to focus on run prevention rather than run creation.
The rumblings of Atlanta’s interest in Sale began earlier this week (via Jon Heyman), temporarily curbing the franchise’s pursuit of 40-something-year-old free-agent starters. The Braves are moving into a new stadium and believe their rebuild is far enough along for them to compete. While that much is up for debate, they certainly have the farm system to entice the White Sox. But would Julio Teheran be a deal-breaker for Atlanta?
An offseason ago, St. Louis was among the highest bidders for David Price and needs a long-term replacement for the aging Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals have rotation depth but not necessarily a true No. 1, though Carlos Martinez soon could develop into that ace. Sale would allow St. Louis to creep at least a little closer to the Cubs.