When word came down throughout Major League Baseball that the Chicago White Sox officially had placed All-Star pitcher Chris Sale on the trading block, there was immediate interest throughout the league. To put him on a team’s roster was going to be expensive in the form of prospects and/or established players. By the time he was officially traded to the Boston Red Sox, there was only one other serious contender, and that was the Washington Nationals.
After a disappointing 2016 season, White Sox management felt there was a need to shake the team up a bit. It’s never easy to consider trading a potential Cy Young Award winner like Sale, but early season issues with management over the handling of the Adam LaRouche incident and then later Sale’s destruction of throw-back jerseys in the clubhouse made the decision a little easier to stomach.
In the Red Sox, the White Sox found a trading partner with the right piece to offer as part of a deal. There were in fact four players traded for Sale, including pitching prospect Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and pitcher Victor Diaz. While these are all fine prospects, it was the inclusion of infielder Yoan Moncada that sealed the deal. Moncada is generally considered one of the MLB’s top prospect and someone the Red Sox coveted as its second-baseman and shortstop of the future.
What the Sale Trade Means to the Red Sox
Coming off a 2016 season when the Red Sox won the AL East title with 93 wins, the feeling around the clubhouse was they needed one more piece to make it back to the World Series. They were also faced with the prospects of replacing the team’s favorite son in David Ortiz, who has retired at the age of 40, coming off yet another All-star type season.
It was the emergence of young players like Jackie Bradley Jr. (.267/26/87), Xander Bogaerts (.294/21/89) and superstar Mookie Betts (.318/31/113) that made it possible to part with a 21-year old prospect like Moncada in favor of another great arm to bolster the pitching rotation. The Red Sox already have former Cy Young winner David Price and the now reigning Cy Young winner in Rick Porcello, who went 22–4 on the season with a 3.15 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 189 strikeouts in 223 innings.
With the option to place Sale at the front of an already potent pitching rotation, it now makes the Red Sox heavy favorites to win the American League Pennant on most, if not all, sports betting sites. It also gives them the option to trade a veteran starting pitcher like Clay Buchholz or Drew Pomeranz for perhaps a little more help in the bullpen. Best of all, this is a team friendly financial deal as Sale is due to make only $12 million in 2017 with team options in 2018 and 2019 for $12.5 million and $13.5 million, respectively. That alone opens up a lot of other options to help position the team to be potent for the next few years.
As the rest of the AL East struggles to find or keep players who are entering free agency, namely Mark Trumbo of the Baltimore Orioles and Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, it looks like the Red Sox are taking another major step forward with the addition of Sale despite losing Ortiz. In the rumor mill, it appears the Red Sox might not be done as the team’s name has been mentioned in the free agent mix on the aforementioned Encarnacion and Bautista. The addition of either of those two players, plus what the team is already planning to put on the field would make the Red Sox legitimate contenders to take away the World Series title from the loaded Chicago Cubs.