White Sox should not trade Chris Sale
After a disastrous 2015 season in which the Chicago White Sox failed to reach the postseason for the eighth consecutive season, general manager Rick Hahn will once again need to become creative this offseason if this team will have any chance of reaching the playoffs in 2016.
The White Sox aren’t expected to sign any of the top-tier free agents this offseason such as Jason Heyward or Yoenis Cespedes, but they will need to fill many holes. However, with the White Sox inability to remain competitive over the past three seasons, there was a report from Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com that the White Sox could possibly trade their star pitcher in Chris Sale to accelerate a turnaround. The return would be a bevy of top prospects and would signal the true start of a rebuilding process for the organization.
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Although the White Sox could trade Sale to a team in desperate need of a true ace, Hahn would be wise to hold onto one of the better pitchers in the American League and continue to build a team that can reach the postseason. The White Sox are already struggling with their attendance and television ratings, why would they want to alienate their fan base even more by trading an elite pitcher?
With a pitching staff that includes Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon, the White Sox need to address their major inefficiencies on defense in getting a third baseman and right fielder this offseason before they even consider moving Sale. The White Sox have other pitchers they could trade to perhaps get a third baseman or right fielder in Erik Johnson and Frankie Montas. The need to trade Sale at this point isn’t there for a franchise that is struggling to remain relevant in Chicago.
A rebuilding process on the South Side wouldn’t sit well with a fanbase that is starving for another winning team, let alone a team with a season above .500 for the first time since 2012. Trading Sale would have a negative impact on the starting rotation for 2016 as the White Sox would be without an ace and would have to rely on Rodon or Quintana if he’s not traded to fill that role.
While Rodon showed glimpses of how dominant he could be in the future during 2015, he would be pitching in his first full season in 2016 and it wouldn’t be wise for the organization to rely on a second-year player to be the ace of its pitching staff.
The White Sox need help in a lot of areas, but their starting pitching is a strength for the team in 2016 and if they could add a mid-tier free agent such as Doug Fister, they can make up for the loss of Jeff Samardzija to free agency.
Trading Sale would be very premature as the Sox can still compete and typically teams don’t trade their aces until the trading deadline. Examples of this include the Cleveland Indians trading C.C. Sabathia in 2008 to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Seattle Mariners trading Randy Johnson to the Houston Astros in 1998.
With this in mind, a trade for prospects can yield productive players who can eventually help a franchise win a World Series. For example, when the Kansas City Royals traded Zack Grienke to the Brewers in 2010, they received two future starters on their 2015 World Series championship team in shortstop Alcides Escober and centerfielder Lorenzo Cain.
Would Hahn be willing to admit to Sox fans there will be more losing seasons before they will get back to playing competitive baseball after trading Sale? Although trading Sale could make rebuilding much faster, it would seem like a tough pill to swallow for Hahn and the White Sox could see their already weak attendance at U.S. Cellular Field dwindle to less than 20,000 fans per game for the next few seasons.