It still seems like a fairly remote possibility that the White Sox will end up trading southpaw Chris Sale; indeed, rival executives who have spoken with the Chicago front office get the impression that the odds of a deal remain low, according to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. That doesn’t mean that clubs aren’t trying to see what it’d take to reach a deal, though, and ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden provides an entertaining effort at identifying what kinds of trade packages could be negotiated with some major contenders.
The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman right up until the end of the Yankees’ negotiations with the Cubs, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark, and general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff are still on the hunt for a relief ace that could anchor the back of the bullpen and provide an upgrade over Jonathan Papelbon. Citing rival clubs that have spoken with the Nationals, Stark reports that Andrew Miller, Wade Davis and David Robertson are all on the radar for the Nats.
The asking price on Miller and Davis is said to be otherworldly, of course, as evidenced by a recent report from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan which stated that the Royals kicked around Lucas Giolito’s name when internally discussing the notion of trading Davis. Beyond that, Stark reported yesterday that the package sent from the Cubs to the Yankees in exchange for Chapman — Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford — wouldn’t have pried Davis away from Kansas City. The price on Miller, as has been the case since discussions about potentially trading him surfaced back in May, is exceptionally high. The Yankees were said to be fixated on Kyle Schwarber in talks pertaining to Miller, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports again emphasizes that the Yankees would want MLB-ready talent from the Nationals in exchange for Miller, suggesting that names like Giolito and Joe Ross could surface in talks.
According to Stark, the Nationals aren’t willing to part with Giolito, Trea Turner or Reynaldo Lopez in their quest to upgrade the bullpen, which makes the addition of either Miller or Davis seem decidedly unlikely. Robertson, on the other hand, would perhaps be another story given the facts that he’s owed roughly $29.15MM through the end of his contract and hasn’t seen his results with the White Sox match up with his otherwise pristine track record.
Robertson has managed an excellent strikeout rate both this year and last, and his 2016 ground-ball rate of 46.7 percent is the second-best of his career. However, he’s sporting a troublesome 4.46 ERA with the Sox this season and has a 3.82 mark since signing with the team. Robertson has struggled with location, leading to an increase in walks (4.7 BB/9) and home runs (1.3 HR/9, 14.3 percent homer-to-flyball ratio) in 40 1/3 innings this year. Optimists can point to the fact that 16 of the 20 runs yielded by Robertson since Opening Day have come across just four disastrous outings and he’s been otherwise excellent, but the bottom-line results haven’t been as consistent as the ChiSox would hope.
Beyond the prospects the Nationals would have to surrender, finances also have to factor into the equation. Washington reportedly struggled to attract free agents this offseason because the club had to factor deferred money into nearly all of its offers, in part due to the longstanding dispute with the Orioles over the shared MASN television network rights fees. (The Nats also convinced Papelbon to take a slightly lesser 2016 salary than his club option called for in exchange for exercising it immediately upon completion of last summer’s trade.) Robertson’s salary is the most prohibitive, but Davis is slated to earn $10MM next season via a club option, and Miller is owed $9MM in each of the next two seasons. None of the three is an insurmountable sum, but the finances involved with each reliever in question add another layer to the calculus of negotiating a trade.
The Dodgers would be willing to include top prospect Julio Urias in a trade for White Sox ace Chris Sale, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. That’s a major concession, as Urias is arguably the very best pitching prospect in baseball. Los Angeles has declined to make him available in the past, and now that he has reached the majors, he would certainly represent a legitimate centerpiece in a deal for the even-more-valuable Sale. Depth isn’t a major concern for Los Angeles, Sherman explains; instead, they are trying to see if they can strike a deal for a major talent like Sale, teammate Jose Quintana, or Chris Archer of the Rays.
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has another edition of his 10 Degrees column posted, which focuses heavily on a number of potentially available names. A few highlights from within, though the entire column is worth a look…
- When determining what they should ask in return for Wade Davis, should they make him available, the Royals internally discussed Nationals righty Lucas Giolito, per Passan. That would be a fairly staggering price to pay, as Giolito is, by many accounts, the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. Davis is earning $8MM this season (about $3.06MM of that remains) and has a $10MM option for the 2017 season on his contract as well, so there’s certainly value, but that price would almost certainly strike the Nats as exorbitant. However, as Passan notes, the Yankees plucked Gleyber Torres and three other pieces from the Cubs for a rental of Aroldis Chapman, so the Royals’ lofty asking price is understandable.
- The D-backs are prepared to offer struggling right-hander Shelby Miller to other clubs in trades and are largely open for business overall, though a complete tear-down won’t happen. The D-backs are holding onto Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, A.J. Pollock, Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray — a nice core, as Passan notes — but are willing to listen virtually anywhere else. Miller’s acquisition has been one of the most talked-about stories in the game since he was acquired for Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair this offseason, and his 7.14 ERA through 69 1/3 innings and subsequent demotion to Triple-A Reno have only intensified the scrutiny.
- Chris Sale’s trade value hasn’t been hurt by his suspension for inappropriate conduct in this weekend’s bizarre jersey-cutting controversy. Any club wishing to acquire him would need to part with an MLB-ready, elite prospect, writes Passan, who lists Andrew Benintendi or Yoan Moncada of the Red Sox, Nomar Mazara of the Rangers, Alex Bregman of the Astros and Julio Urias of the Dodgers as hypothetical starting points — the White Sox would require another three to four valuable pieces beyond those names — if any of those teams want to make a legitimate run at Sale. I think the White Sox would be well within reason to start by asking for both Benintendi and Moncada from the Red Sox or Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo from the Rangers before moving onto the secondary pieces in each deal. Sale is owed $3.5MM through the end of the current season and can be controlled through 2019, his age-30 season, for a total of $41.5MM. The surplus value there is astonishing, and the dearth of pitching talent on the trade market/upcoming free agent market only adds to Sale’s allure.
- The White Sox are valuing lefty Jose Quintana quite similarly, Passan adds, noting that one executive tells him Chicago is valuing Quintana like a true No. 1 starter. That’s not quite an accurate representation of Quintana’s abilities, but he’s pitched closely enough to that level that it makes sense to ask. Quintana has a 3.32 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate in 737 innings dating back to 2013. Like Sale, he’s a flat-out bargain for the South Siders, as he’s owed just $39.92MM through the 2020 season.
- Wade Miley has been quietly shopped by the Mariners in recent weeks, per Passan. While Seattle isn’t necessarily selling despite their trade of Mike Montgomery and their shopping of Miley, it appears that they’re open to dealing from the big league roster in the right scenario. The Montgomery trade brought an MLB-ready talent back to the Mariners in Dan Vogelbach, and Seattle probably has the pitching depth to move Miley without subtracting much in the way of big league value from the current iteration of the club. Miley has just a 5.23 ERA in 105 innings for Seattle this season, though his strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates are all respectable (6.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 45.9 percent). He’s guaranteed about $11.55MM through the end of the 2017 season, though $500K of that is in the form of a buyout on a $12MM club option for the 2018 season, so he could be controlled longer if he rebounds.
- The “safe money” is on Melvin Upton Jr. going to the Orioles to play as a corner outfielder/insurance policy for Adam Jones in center field, Passan writes. The O’s and Padres have reportedly discussed a swap of Upton and Ubaldo Jimenez, though the Orioles would need to send some prospect value back to San Diego in that trade. The contracts of Upton ($22.36MM through 2017) and Jimenez ($18.47MM) are similar, and Upton, unlike Jimenez, is providing present-day value. It’s still tough for me to envision the Padres getting much in the way of a prospect back — especially if they do indeed absorb Jimenez’s contract — and the Orioles don’t exactly have a deep farm from which to deal.
- If the Nationals aren’t able to land Aroldis Chapman or Wade Davis, that won’t stop the team from searching for back-of-the-bullpen help, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes (Twitter links). David Robertson will surely be a target if the White Sox shop him around, and Heyman figures the Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal will get a look. Though St. Louis is no longer using Rosenthal as closer, Heyman isn’t sure the Cards would make him available.
Although the White Sox suspended ace Chris Sale after scratching him Saturday for cutting up their throwback uniforms before their game against Detroit, they’re not necessarily any likelier to deal the rumored trade candidate than they were before, writes FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. That doesn’t mean he’ll stay put, though, and given the lack of high-quality starters scheduled to hit the upcoming free agent market, numerous executives have told Rosenthal that the White Sox might be better off waiting to move Sale until the offseason. In their view, shopping Sale in the winter would enable Chicago to involve more teams in the sweepstakes. While Rosenthal regards Saturday’s incident as a hit to Sale’s reputation, he notes that it won’t turn interested teams off from wanting to acquire him. As for Sale, whether he remains a member of the White Sox or goes elsewhere, he’s “fine either way,” per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
SUNDAY: The White Sox have issued a five-day suspension to Sale as a result of his Saturday behavior. He’ll be out of action through Wednesday.
“Chris has been suspended for violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment,” Hahn stated. “While we all appreciate Chris’ talent and passion, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to express concerns about team rules and organizational expectations.”
Hahn added that the White Sox still believe Sale can be part of the solution for the franchise (Twitter link via Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago).
SATURDAY: The White Sox scratched superstar left-hander Chris Sale from his start Saturday in Detroit, which Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet was first to report (Twitter link). Given that Sale has begun generating significant trade buzz this week, speculation initially ran rampant that the White Sox had a deal in place to move the 27-year-old. That isn’t the case at the moment, though, as Chicago actually scratched Sale because of a pregame “clubhouse incident.”
“Chris Sale has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start and sent home from the ballpark by the White Sox due to a clubhouse incident before the game,” senior vice president and general manager Rick Hahn said in a team-issued press release (Twitter link via Paul Skrbina of the Chicago Tribune). “The incident, which was non-physical in nature, currently is under further investigation by the club.”
Sale got into an altercation with front office staff, which began in “silly” fashion and blew up into a bigger argument, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (links here). Amazingly, the fight centered on Sale’s disdain for the White Sox’s throwback uniforms. Sale didn’t want to put them on, so he cut all of them up to prevent anyone from wearing them, relays Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal subsequently corroborated Stokke’s report, adding that Sale first requested Chicago not wear the uniforms because they’re uncomfortable. When the White Sox declined, Sale became livid because, in his view, the franchise decided to prioritize p.r. and jersey sales over winning (links to Twitter).
This isn’t the first off-the-wall dust-up of the year featuring Sale, who lashed out at team president Kenny Williams in March after first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche retired because the White Sox requested that he bring his son, Drake, into the clubhouse less frequently. Saturday’s disagreement did not include Williams, per Rosenthal (Twitter link).
Sale’s issues aside, he’s unsurprisingly still drawing interest from elsewhere as the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline nears. The White Sox are continuing to discuss him with other teams, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). One team with interest in Sale is the rebuilding Braves, via reports from both Chris Cotillo of SB Nation and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported earlier Saturday that the White Sox want five top-caliber prospects for Sale, whose years-long track record of on-field brilliance has continued this season. Sale’s strikeout rate (8.73 per nine innings) is at its all-time lowest mark, but he continues to limit walks (1.96 per nine) and runs (3.18 ERA). He’s also controllable for extremely team-friendly dollar figures through 2019.
With the free-falling White Sox open to selling off veterans, power-hitting third baseman Todd Frazier could end up switching uniforms by the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Frazier is on a reasonable $7.5MM salary this year and will make one more trip through arbitration in the offseason. His .212/.300/.476 batting line is far from great, but the right-handed Frazier is second in the majors in home runs (28). Meanwhile, the team’s second-best starting pitcher, lefty Jose Quintana, is available for an “overwhelming” package, a major league source told Cafardo. The highly effective Quintana, 27, is controllable and affordable through 2020, and has logged a 3.13 ERA, 8.15 K/9 and 2.26 BB/9 in 123 2/3 innings this season.
SATURDAY,9:26pm: The White Sox aren’t motivated to trade either Sale or Quintana, multiple major league sources told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
7:52pm: The Rangers are currently unwilling to trade Mazara for Sale, but they’re open to dealing Gallo, Profar and some of their pitching prospects, per Sullivan.
FRIDAY, 5:23pm: The Rangers are “making [a] serious effort” to pry Sale loose from the White Sox, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (via Twitter). Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported recently that the two teams were already chatting about Sale (and Quintana, too) before it became apparent that Chicago was leaning toward selling.
There’s “no indication” as yet whether these talks are going to go anywhere, Sullivan notes, so it doesn’t sound as if there’s anything building in the immediate term. Indeed, Grant adds on Twitter that no “serious talks” have occurred as of this point. The key takeaway seems to be that Texas at least plans to take a real shot at pulling off a blockbuster.
Indications are that Chicago would have interest in Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar in any scenario involving Sale. We’ve heard those two names quite a bit of late, and obviously the pair carries a lot of trade value. Still, it’s quite likely that Texas would need to add some real talent to that package to get the White Sox to budge.
Sale, after all, is just 27 years of age, remains under control at cheap rates through 2019, and carries a 3.18 ERA over a league-leading 133 frames on the year. Particularly with the contracts factored in, Sale is one of the most valuable single pitching assets in all of baseball — with Quintana not far behind him.
3:47pm: The White Sox are taking quite a few calls from rival organizations after reports emerged yesterday that the club is prepared to sell. While the extent of the sell-off isn’t yet apparent, and staff aces Chris Sale and Jose Quintana figure to be the most difficult pieces to pry loose, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag writes that the South Siders are at least willing to hear scenarios involving the top southpaws.
Per the report, the Red Sox are among the teams to have logged a phone call with the Chicago brass. Heyman suggests that Boston could theoretically also have interest in reliever David Robertson, and also notes that the Dodgers will surely check in on Sale and Quintana. No doubt plenty of other teams will also; as the recent chatter surrounding Chris Archer shows, controllable standouts draw wide interest no matter the time of year.
Ultimately, it seems that the White Sox are mostly looking to gauge the market for Sale and Quintana as they assess how far to go with their sales plan. GM Rick Hahn has acknowledged that the team won’t buy short-term assets, but hasn’t declared his organization open for business on the sell side, and it’s possible to imagine the club taking various routes given its array of veteran talent. Certainly, there’s no urgency to deal a top arm, though perhaps the Sox wonder if the time could be ripe with the market seemingly lacking the supply to match the demand.
The most likely pieces to be traded, generally, would be pending free agents. But as Chicago’s depth chart shows, the team’s walk-year vets don’t hold much appeal: Austin Jackson and Alex Avila are hurt, while Dioner Navarro has been ineffective and Justin Morneau only just returned to the big leagues. The Sox have one more season of arb control over infielders Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie; there’s one more year on the contract of southpaw reliever Zach Duke and two to go for Robertson. Both Melky Cabrera and James Shields could draw interest, though their expensive contracts will require some number-crunching.
The team’s true core, though, lies in the players it has locked up to lengthy deals. First baseman Jose Abreu has had some down moments, but remains an appealing asset. Outfielder Adam Eaton is a great value on his contract. And then there’s Sale and Quintana, who are probably the most appealing White Sox trade chips of all. Of course, their extremely favorable contracts, young age, and top-level production all make them important assets to an organization that probably doesn’t intend to oversee a full-blown teardown. But taking a package of near-MLB prospects could theoretically still make sense, and it seems that Chicag would like to at least know what’s possible.
The most prominent pitcher the Rangers have pursued as the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline nears is White Sox ace Chris Sale, who’s currently embroiled in a strange controversy, but the sides haven’t made much progress, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. With that in mind, Texas’ focus is on the Rays’ starters at the moment, writes Grant. Tampa Bay’s asking price is high for Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi, though, as it wants powerful corner infielder/outfielder Joey Gallo – Baseball America’s 11th-ranked prospect. The Rangers would only give up Gallo for the Rays’ top starter, Chris Archer, per Grant.