Late last night, Marc got the urge to shoot down the idea of a Chris Sale trade to the Red Sox. It might seem to have come from nowhere if you haven't been keeping abreast of the ongoing story in Chicago, but there's good reason this was written now. Shortly after Adam LaRoche opted to retire rather than return to a White Sox team that wouldn't allow his son in the clubhouse full-time, Sale took team president Kenny Williams to task, going so far as to order him out of the locker room.
This is the sort of thing that often leads to trades, and it moved the needle on the Boston Globe's radar enough to inspire this trade proposal:
So the final package would be something like Travis (or Devers or Benintendi), Espinoza, Craig, $18 million, and two others for Sale.
(Side note: Craig has basically become a "the Aristocrats!" style punchline to any and all trade rumors.)
That offer hit Twitter, and of course generated no shortage of reactions, and so here we are.
The thing about that proposal is: it's not completely crazy. Well, at least not in some ways. That it provisionally centers on Sam Travis, giving him all the stock of a Benintendi or Devers based on spring training is perhaps just a concession to more casual fans/readers, but certainly wouldn't fly in reality.
Still, if the package seems light even with Benintendi or Devers in Travis' place, it's actually about what Sale's value should be at right now, taking all factors into account. Assuming whatever team he's on picks up both team options, Sale will be owed just north of $47 million over the next four years. That's an incredible bargain for a player of his talent, which does give us a pretty high baseline to start from.
But the fact is that recent history works against the White Sox here. 2015 was the worst season of Sale's career by a fair margin in terms of results, as he pitched to a 3.41 ERA in 208 innings. Certainly a productive season, but not at the level expected of him.
The peripherals do speak highly for Sale. He actually struck out more batters than ever before by a decent margin. And if you really look at why his runs spiked, the answer lies mostly in playing in front of the league's most atrocious defense. He should be hurt less by that given all the strikeouts, and there's something to be said for the fact that hitters managed more line drives against him than usual and his home run rate spiked. Lots of that could just be noise in the statistics, but it's still hard to completely wipe away the results, leaving Sale worth slightly less today than he has been at other times in his career.
And there is, of course, the clubhouse issue. Sale being upset with ownership might leave the team in an awkward position at the bargaining table. It also makes Kenny Williams an even wilder wild card than usual. It's hard to be certain of much of anything when it comes to Williams, and Dave Dombrowski should certainly be checking in to see what he's thinking given that he's got nothing to lose in doing so.
But if the door seems more open to a Chris Sale trade now than in years gone by, that doesn't mean it actually is. Chris Sale is the White Sox right now. More so than Kenny Williams is, certainly. Likely to the point that ownership would step in if Williams felt slighted enough to make a trade. And certainly if Williams is feeling calm about the whole thing, he'll know that this isn't the time to be dealing his ace on the back of his worst season by ERA. Sure, the White Sox are incurring some small risk that this is just what Sale is going forward--a good pitcher still, but not a great one. It seems unlikely given his age, peripherals, and past, but a rough year, even if it's mostly in terms of results, can't be completely ignored.
But that risk is one they'll be pretty happy to take given Sale's low impact on payroll, incredible talent, and stature with the team, to the point where they likely won't be willing to part with him for anything less that a pre-2016 price. If the Globe's offer isn't too far off the assessor's price for Chris Sale, if you will, the practical price for the White Sox is likely a decent bit higher.
Does Boston have the assets to make a Chris Sale trade? Absolutely. They have Betts, Bogaerts, Swihart, Moncada, Benintendi, Devers, Espinoza...the list goes on! Is there any offer out there that will make both teams happy enough to sign on the bottom line?