Talk about White Sox ace Chris Sale figures to be persistent this winter whether he gets moved or not, and FOX’s Ken Rosenthal has the latest installment in his newest notes column. Rosenthal echoes yesterday’s report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the Nationals are interested in Sale and adds more context to the matter. Per Rosenthal, the Nats would shut talks down if the Sox were insistent on Trea Turner’s inclusion in the deal, but they have numerous other high-end prospects — the Nats are prospect-rich with names like Victor Robles, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others — that could entice Chicago. While the Nats have more glaring needs (catcher, center field), they’ve expressed interest in both Sale and Chris Archer of the Rays (and other Tampa Bay starters) with an eye toward further deepening their rotation to maximize their postseason chances. Rosenthal reminds that the Nats appeared to have a stacked rotation even when they signed Max Scherzer, and the NL East is continually improving, putting more pressure on GM Mike Rizzo and his staff.
A few highlights from the column, which I’d recommend checking out in its entirety…
- The Blue Jays are still seeking a left-handed-hitting outfielder, and Rosenthal lists Josh Reddick and Dexter Fowler as possibilities, though Fowler would need to be willing to move to a corner to accommodate Kevin Pillar’s borderline superhuman glove. They’re also in the market for a right-handed platoon partner for Justin Smoak at first base, with Steve Pearce standing out as a possible target. The need for a platoon partner is somewhat counterintuitive since Smoak is a switch-hitter, however Smoak hit just .209/.284/.337 as a right-handed hitter last year and has hit lefties at a woeful .223/.279/.378 clip over the past three seasons.
- Rosenthal lists the Angels’ Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker as potential under-the-radar trade candidates, speculating that the team could potentially move someone such as Skaggs (as part of a trade package) if it meant landing a premium second baseman like Minnesota’s Brian Dozier. That appears to be a speculative link at this juncture, but Dozier’s name will be a popular one this winter given the Twins’ last place finish and obvious need for pitching. The 29-year-old slugged 42 home runs for Minnesota in 2016 and is under club control for a total of $15MM through the 2018 season.
- The Yankees and Astros are “at an impasse” in trade talks over Brian McCann, though Houston can certainly turn elsewhere in its hunt for catching help and general offensive improvements. The ’Stros were in on Kendrys Morales before he agreed to a his deal with Toronto, per Rosenthal.
- Free agent catchers could come off the board quickly, with Jason Castro and defensive stalwart Jeff Mathis among those drawing strong early interest. Rosenthal points out that last year, Chris Iannetta, Alex Avila, Brayan Pena and Geovany Soto all signed prior to Dec. 1. Castro’s market in particular appears to be fast-moving, as he’s already reported to be weighing offers from three American League clubs and could receive a fourth from Minnesota this week.