Red Sox Rumors: Chris Sale market shaping up in Boston’s favor?


The latest rumors regarding Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale‘s availability put the Boston Red Sox near the forefront of the market.

Are the Chicago White Sox finally going to trade Chris Sale? That remains one of the biggest questions hovering over Major League Baseball this offseason, with a number of teams hoping to pry away the talented lefty. The Boston Red Sox are among those teams and they have the assets to entice Chicago, but how do they stack up against the competition in this race?

Jon Heyman of reports that there are five teams that have started to separate themselves in trade talks for Sale: the Red Sox, Nationals, Braves, Astros and Rangers.

Each of these teams would be capable of putting together a package that Chicago would have to seriously consider, yet it’s not a foregone conclusion that Sale will be dealt. The asking price will be through the roof, as it should be.

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Sale is among the top handful of pitchers in the American League, having finished within the top six in Cy Young voting in each of the past five seasons, each of which earned him an All-Star appearance. He’s one of the league’s premiere strikeout artists, owns a career 3.00 ERA and he’s a workhorse who has remained relatively durable.

Sale is also only 27 years old and owed a mere $38 million over the next three seasons, assuming his two team option years are picked up. For comparison sake, David Price will earn nearly that much in 2017 alone, as will any top-tier starting pitcher that hits the free agent market in the foreseeable future. The combination of Sale’s elite talent and bargain contract making him the most appealing option on the trade market.

Which is also what will make it difficult for Chicago to part with him unless they are absolutely blown away. “The asking price is so high that it’s hard to imagine he’s getting traded,” a team executive told Heyman.

According to Heyman’s report, a number of teams in the running for Sale remain hesitant to meet that price. The Nationals have balked at giving up Trea Turner, the Braves are intent on building around Dansby Swanson and the Astros don’t appear to be willing to surrender Alex Bregman.

Could any of those teams build a suitable package around other assets? Possibly, but it may not be enough to rival what the Red Sox can offer. Based on what Heyman is hearing, the outlook for Boston’s chances to land Sale sounds much more optimistic.

"“There’s no doubt that they have the young players to get it done,” writes Heyman. “It was reported here, and elsewhere, that Jackie Bradley was among the pieces the White Sox sought last July, and while giving him up would hurt, Boston could slide Mookie Betts over to center field if need be. They also have two of the most talented young players in the game, in Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada, plus some young pitching pieces such as Eduardo Rodriguez who could round out the package.”"

The Red Sox won’t give up both of their top hitting prospects, but they have the depth to sacrifice either Benintendi or Moncada. Package one of them with an All-Star center fielder and a young pitcher like E-Rod, who would be in danger of losing his rotation spot anyway if Sale were to be added, and that should be enough to sway the White Sox into parting with their ace. It’s a steep price to pay, but that’s what it will take to land a player like Sale and Boston is one of the few teams that can afford to give up that much young talent without jeopardizing their future because of the depth they have at those positions.

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Texas is still in the mix, but even if they are willing to include Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar it’s hard to see them topping Boston’s best offer. After they already dealt a bundle of prospects to acquire Cole Hamels last year, trading for another ace could leave their farm system thin.

The Dodgers are a dark horse candidate in this race, but they remain focused on retaining their top free agents, including Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. Even if they were to allow them each to walk away, the new luxury tax rules in the collective bargaining agreement may force the Dodgers to start trimming salary, in which case parting with cost-controlled prospects doesn’t seem like the way to go.

You can never count out the Yankees, who stocked their farm system with mid-season trades this year. For now New York seems focused on building around their young players and if including Gary Sanchez in the deal is a non-starter in trade talks then the conversation is unlikely to go anywhere.

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Any of these teams could cave in to Chicago’s demands and part with their most prized assets, but at the moment it doesn’t seem like most of them are willing to do so. That could put the Red Sox in the drivers seat in these negotiations. The only question they need to ask themselves is how much is too much to give up? We may soon find out.