The White Sox discussed left-handed aces Chris Sale and Jose Quintana with the Red Sox prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, but Boston was unwilling to part with center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for either, reports Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago.
It’s unclear if any other players were involved in the teams’ talks, but had the Red Sox given up Bradley for Sale or Quintana, they would have damaged one area of their roster to improve another. That’s something contending teams are especially loath to do during the season. However, the two clubs could resume negotiations in the offseason, writes Levine.
Bradley broke out offensively last summer and is now in the midst of his best full season at the major league level, having slashed .272/.349/.499 with 21 home runs in 510 plate appearances. He has also provided value on the base paths, with FanGraphs rating him as the 13th-best base runner in the league, as well as in the field. The 26-year-old ranks top five among center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved (nine), Ultimate Zone Rating (3.4) and UZR/150 (4.9). Bradley’s defensive work has earned plaudits since his major league career began in earnest two years ago, but it took some time for his output at the dish to catch up. Now, given his explosion with the bat, Bradley looks poised to land a significant raise in arbitration during the offseason as a likely Super Two player, which MLBTR’s Jeff Todd touched on earlier this week. That will be the first of four possible arbitration trips for Bradley, who has easily outperformed his $536,500 salary this season.
As is the case with Bradley, Chicago’s two 27-year-old front-line starters are bargains. Sale, who’s in his fifth straight year as an elite-level ace, is controllable from 2017-2019 for around $40MM. Like Sale, Quintana has turned in quality seasons for a half-decade, and his contract is even more appealing than his teammate’s. Quintana will make $14.35MM over the next two seasons and then up to $21MM more with a pair of $10.5MM club options that run through 2020.
While neither Sale nor Quintana is a lock to go anywhere during the winter, that could change if the White Sox decide to rebuild. Chicago is on track to miss the playoffs for an eighth straight year, and general manager Rick Hahn indicated Thursday that the franchise’s direction will become clear early in the offseason. If the White Sox choose to shop at least one of Sale or Quintana, the weak free agent market for pitchers would make the upcoming offseason an ideal time for it, as Levine notes. Any team in need of pitching – including Boston – would likely inquire on either or both, thereby enabling Chicago to spark a bidding war.