Chicago White Sox: Five Possible Chris Sale Trades
Over the past few days, multiple teams have emerged as potential suitors for the Chicago White Sox in a trade for starting pitcher Chris Sale. So what would it take from each possible trade partner to land a deal for the All-Star southpaw this winter?
The Chicago White Sox have made it known over the past week that they in fact intend on listening to offers for some of their top players this winter, in an effort to make moves that will help create long-term sustainability on the south side of Chicago.
The most valuable asset that the White Sox have on their roster is of course All-Star starting pitcher Chris Sale, who has emerged as the hottest commodity across Major League Baseball over the last seven days. Naturally when there is a historically weak free agent pitching market, coupled with one of the best pitchers in baseball becoming available via trade, teams are going to start making phone calls.
Thus far the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals and most recently the Atlanta Braves have emerged as potential suitors for the White Sox in a deal to nab the side-slinging southpaw for their respective rotations.
The White Sox made it clear as far back as last July leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline that the price for Sale would been extremely high, and that they are not afraid to hold on to Sale if they don’t get what they deem appropriate in return. Let’s be clear: Sale being traded and what type of return the White Sox receive will set the tone and play a major factor in their rebuilding process, so the asking price is huge and rightfully so.
Chris Sale, 27, has pitched his way to a 74-50 record with an even 3.00 ERA over the course of seven seasons with the White Sox. He has accumulated 1,244 strikeouts to just 260 walks in that same span, and hasn’t finished a season with a strikeout total lower than 200 since 2012, his first full season as a starting pitcher at the major league level. Sale’s obvious rare ability coupled with his team-friendly contract, which runs through the 2019 season with the club only on the hook for $38 million, makes him a definite candidate to tax the farm for.
Let’s take a look at the type of package that would need to change hands for each potential suitor and the White Sox to strike a blockbuster deal this winter.
The most talked about scenario for a Chris Sale trade to date is one involving the White Sox and the Boston Red Sox. The two clubs flirted with a deal in the days leading up to the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline, and will likely revisit the discussion after the Red Sox were swept in the first round of the playoffs this past October by the Cleveland Indians.
Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski is holding his hand close to his chest on the Sale matter, and has gone as far as saying that he would rather add a late-inning reliever to their bullpen before looking to add another piece to the rotation. Enter one Nate Jones, the 30-year-old set-up man who would help the Red Sox quell both desires in one move, allowing them to give the White Sox a package of prospects that would work for them.
As a preface to the following, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been named before as a coveted piece for the White Sox, and I left him out of the following scenario because I don’t think he would be in a trade this winter since the White Sox have changed course and are now looking to cash in on assets and rebuild their minor league system.
RHP Michael Kopech,
1B Sam Travis,
OF Luis Alexander Basabe,
RHP Roniel Raudes
RHP Nate Jones
Yoan Moncada was surpassed as the Red Sox’s number one prospect (as per MLB Pipeline) by outfielder Andrew Benintendi recently, but Moncada would be the White Sox’s second baseman of the future, with an expected arrival anywhere from 2017 to Spring Training 2018. Moncada is a switch-hitter with great bat speed and the ability to make solid contact from both sides of the plate, with the potential to hit 20-25 home runs each year. Moncada’s best asset at this point is his well above average speed, posting back-to-back 45-plus steal seasons in the Boston farm system.
Michael Kopech is a right-handed starting pitcher with a 95-97 mile per hour fastball complemented by a low 90s slider. Kopech’s fastball has excellent late life, and at times reaches triple digits.
Sam Travis is seen as an excellent hitter who displays the ability to make hard contact to all areas of the field, complemented by soft hands and an excellent work ethic at first base. Travis assuming the first base role at some point in 2017 or 2018 will allow the White Sox to move Jose Abreu into the designated hitter role or even trade him during the rebuilding process.
Luis Alexander Basabe ranks eighth in the Boston system, but is more expendable to the Red Sox due to their excellent outfield currently on display at the major league level. Basabe is 20 years old, and is seen as a player with excellent raw power ability thanks to his lofty swing, with plus speed and above average base running instincts. Basabe would be best served as a corner outfielder at the major league level, and has a projected arrival of sometime in 2018.
Roniel Raudes is the Red Sox’ 13th overall prospect, at the tender age of 18 he would be on the same track as current White Sox prospect Spencer Adams, who could be expected sometime in 2019. Raudes is seen as “extremely advanced” as an 18-year-old prospect, with excellent control of his fastball, complemented by a pair of plus secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup.
The Dodgers faltered in the NLCS this past season, largely due to their lack of rotational depth. Chris Sale would join Clayton Kershaw in a Dodgers rotation that would boast the best duo in all of baseball if a deal was reached.
On Monday Dave Williams of Barstool Sports, who has been a nearly spot-on inside source for White Sox news over the past year or so, stated that he had two different people in baseball from two different organizations reach out to him in regards to a deal being talked about between the White Sox and the Dodgers involving Sale and Todd Frazier heading to Los Angeles in return for a “huge prospect package.”
Todd Frazier would give the Dodgers a power-hitting third baseman for the middle of their order to provide Corey Seager with some protection, and at the same time give the Dodgers a replacement at third base for Justin Turner, who is now a free agent.
Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ current top prospect would provide the White Sox with their first baseman of the future, with Jose Abreu becoming either the new designated hitter eventually or traded in another deal. Bellinger, 21, is seen as an excellent defensive first baseman with soft hands, agility and good instincts. Bellinger has the speed and hands to even play a corner outfield position if needed. Offensively Bellinger has a smooth, lofty left-handed swing with plenty of power to go around, but could use some improved pitch selection to help his ability to hit for average. Bellinger profiles to crack the major league level at some point in 2018.
Jose De Leon is the Dodgers’ second-ranked prospect, a 24-year-old right-hander who boasts a fastball sitting in the 92-94 mph range, sometimes touching as high as 96 mph with some great riding action. De Leon posted a 7-1 record with a 2.61 ERA and 111 strikeouts to just 20 walks in the Dodgers minor league system in 2016. De Leon is seen by many as ready to make the jump to the major league level at some point next season, and would be a number-two starting pitcher at the major league level.
Yusniel Diaz would give the White Sox a solid prospect in center field moving forward. Diaz boasts excellent speed, instincts, base running ability, and a quick right-handed swing allowing him to work in the outfield gaps successfully. Diaz is seen as a player who will shape up to have solid to plus attributes in four of five basic tools at the major league level, with a projected ETA of sometime in 2019.
Jordan Sheffield is a right-hander out of California. Sheffield has a developing three-pitch arsenal, with a fastball that sits in the mid 90s, topping out at 98 miles per hour. The White Sox could expect to see Sheffield reach the major league level in 2019.
Andrew Toles, a former third round selection of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 showed late in 2016 that he could produce at the major league level in some capacity, joining the Dodgers down the stretch due to injuries. At 24 years old, Toles has to continue to work on his mental makeup to continue to improve on the field, but has shown the ability to hit for average with enough raw power to hit for some pop down the line.
In the second package that would include Todd Frazier heading to another club with Chris Sale, I have the Yankees and the White Sox hooking up on a deal this winter.
The Yankees are making their way back into relevance, with a young competitive roster and a deep system to make a move like snagging Chris Sale to lead their pitching staff. They also get a power bat at the third base position in Todd Frazier, who sweetens the deal enough to allow the Yankees to send an excellent prospect package back to the White Sox featuring four top-ten prospects in their deep farm system.
Clint Frazier is the Yankees’ top rated prospect, and 15th in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Frazier’s bat speed and raw power have him projected to have an All-Star caliber ceiling in the majors, and he is among the best in the minor leagues right now. Frazier is projected to reach the major league level sometime in 2017, and would provide the White Sox with a near stone cold lock in center field for the foreseeable future.
Miguel Andujar is the Yankees’ seventh rated prospect, and boasts a plus rated arm at third base but needs to become more consistent with his glove. Andujar hit .273 with 12 HR and 83 RBI in 2016 in the Yankees system, and possesses great bat speed, well above average power, and a keen ability to make solid contact with breaking balls. Andujar is thought to be major league ready sometime in 2018.
Domingo Acevedo is a 6-foot-7 right-hander listed at 190 pounds, who boasts a 96-100 mile per hour fastball, and is seen as a front-end starter at the major league level around the 2018 season. At 22 years old Acevedo has a solid changeup, with a developing slider that is still considered a work in progress. His curveball is a sinking pitch that clocks in around the mid-80s often. Acevedo profiles as a potential front-end starter if he can refine his slider, and if he can’t he could be a closer with his high heat fastball and plus changeup.
Dillon Tate can dominate hitters with his lively fastball that clocks in at 92-98 miles per hour, coupled with a sharp 85-89 mile per hour slider. Like Andujar and Acevedo, Tate is believed to be major league ready sooner rather than later.
The Washington Nationals have also been mentioned by Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports as a team that has inquired on the cost of Chris Sale in the last week.
The Nationals have a closing championship window looming in front of them heading into 2017, but adding Chris Sale to the front-end of a rotation already featuring the likes of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez would give the Nationals one of the scariest starting rotations in the National League.
Unlike in the deals with the Red Sox, Dodgers and Yankees I have Sale being the lone piece in the deal with the Nationals. Here’s how it looks:
Lucas Giolito is the Nationals’ top pitching prospect at just 22 years old. Giolito boasts a fastball in the mid-upper 90s, along with a 12-6 curveball with hard, downward action. Giolito’s fastball is so good that its seen as an 80-rated fastball on the 20/80 scale used by MLB scouts. Gioito got his first taste of major league competition in 2016, making four starts for the Nationals. During his time in the minors in 2016 Giolito pitched his way to a 2.79 ERA with 116 strikeouts over the course of 115 innings. Giolito also held opposing hitters to a .239 batting average over that span.
Sheldon Neuse, a 21-year-old third baseman is the Nationals’ seventh-ranked prospect. Neuse’s right-handed swing has long been admired by scouts, and he boasts average power and excellent instincts. Neuse was a three-time first-team All-Big 12 selection in college before being selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Nationals. Neuse has an above average arm, with the ability to make any throw across the diamond. The former Oklahoma Sooner posted a .360 batting average during his senior year of college in 2016.
Andrew Stevenson was a second rounder by the Nationals in the 2015 MLB Draft, who was considered to be the best center fielder in college baseball in 2015. Stevenson has tremendous reads and jumps on balls, and boasts a 70 fielding rating on the 20/80 scale. A below average arm is the only knock on the young center fielder’s defensive ability, but it doesn’t take away from his excellent defensive ability overall. Stevenson profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter, with excellent contact ability coupled with plus speed and ability to reach base often. Stevenson has little power to his offensive game thus far.
Osvaldo Abreu is a middle infielder who ranks number 18 in the Nationals minor league system. Just 22 years old, Abreu has struggled with his ability to drive the ball and his strikeout rate, but he has the work ethic and raw talent to improve those areas of concern over the next year or two in the minor leagues. Abreu overall is a prospect with good tools including speed and arm strength who is largely considered to be raw in terms of development. Abreu could see the major leagues at either middle infield position in 2018 or 2019.
The final and most recent team to show interest in acquiring Chris Sale from the White Sox is the Atlanta Braves. Reports first surfaced early Tuesday that the Braves were interested in talking to the White Sox about a deal for Chris Sale.
The Braves, who open a new stadium in 2017, hold one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball and definitely have the talent on hand to provide the White Sox with an acceptable prospect package.
Like the potential deal with the Washington Nationals, I have Sale as the lone player heading to Atlanta in a trade. Chris Sale would join Julio Teheran atop the Braves rotation, with newly acquired veterans R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to provide the Braves with a formidable rotation heading into 2017.
Left-hander Sean Newcomb, 23, is the Braves’ third-ranked prospect, and would give the White Sox a young starting pitcher with a fastball ranging from 94-97 mph, and even reaching triple digits at times. Newcomb is seen as nearly major league ready by many, and features two plus level secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup. At 6-foot-5 Newcomb is big and strong, enabling him to reach high velocity on his fastball with very little effort.
Aaron Blair is another major league ready pitching prospect that would help the White Sox replace Chris Sale, and more than likely Jose Quintana in their rotation moving forward. Blair, 24, made his major league debut for the Braves in 2016, struggling through 15 starts while posting an ERA of nearly 8.00. Through four seasons in the minors, Blair was 28-17 with a 3.81 ERA, while striking out 403 over 434 innings of work.
Austin Riley, 19, could be the White Sox’s third baseman of the future in this potential deal. Riley has the look of a future impact run-producing hitter down the line. Riley hit .271 with 20 home runs and 80 RBI over 495 at-bats in 2016.
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Travis Demeritte, 22, is a right-handed hitting and throwing second baseman who ranks ninth overall in the Atlanta farm system. Demeritte has plus power for a second baseman with the ability to use the entire field and draw walks. Demeritte hit 28 home runs and drove in 70 runs over 455 at-bats in 2016, but struck out 35 percent of the time and needs work hitting breaking balls. Demeritte has a plus arm defensively and excellent speed to go along with it.