White Sox: Could Monster Sale/Jones Package Net Team a Huge Return?
By Brian Draus
White Sox could become sellers this upcoming offseason. If team decides to rebuild, what kind of package could they get for its best starting pitcher and elite setup man?
With many rumors swirling around the Chicago White Sox trading Chris Sale or Jose Quintana this offseason, the question becomes does it make sense? It makes sense under one condition: that being if the Sox win the trade. While the Sox will get a huge return in trading either, might it make sense to add one more to the package? The answer is yes.
In that case, there is a member of the bullpen who makes sense to deal:Nate Jones. Since Jones is a good late-inning reliever, not to mention he is cost-effective for the team acquiring him it makes sense. There is a mutual option for every season after 2018, and he will never make more than $3.95M in any upcoming season (besides option years). There are options every year through the 2021 season.
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The reason to deal Jones is simple, bullpens are becoming more and more important. And if a team acquiring a Sale/Jones package wanted to win now, this pair would be a great addition. In both 2012 and 2016, Jones WAR was above (2.6 and 2.3 respectively). For a non-closer, this is a fantastic WAR for a relief pitcher. Given in 2012 Jones had an 8-0 record, which greatly helped his cause. Regardless, he is a valuable piece to any bullpen.
However, there is a serious concern with Jones, that being injuries. He missed virtually all of 2014 and half of 2015 with back and elbow issues (Tommy John Surgery). Back and elbow injuries are not good for pitchers, however a hard throwing pitcher such as Jones he generates a lot of torque when throwing a baseball. That is a serious concern for any team looking to acquire Jones.
Now, if the Sox are going to make a mega-deal involving Sale or Quintana/Jones, they will need to get a lot in return. Which is the entire point of adding Jones to the package. Assuming the Sox do in fact move Sale or Quintana, it is likely they do not intend to win short-term. Which means they need to load up on as many good young players as possible.
Could Jones bring back one of the top 10 prospects in baseball? No, of course not. But he could enhance a package with a player such as Sale or Quintana to help pry away a monster return from a contender. Jones is more than just a “pot sweetener” he is a legit late-inning reliever that could help out a contending team. And when the Sox get multiple teams bidding on a package such as this one, they could easily drive up the price of acquiring these two.
The goal of professional baseball is to win the World Series, which the Sox will not be doing in 2016. If the front office decides a rebuild is the right way to go, this style of a trade might make sense. For no other reason than getting a huge haul in return, it gives the Sox a sense of direction. Something many Sox fans have been pondering for a while.
All in all, the offseason transactions have yet to get underway in earnest. Keep in mind this is an idea of mine, not the Sox front office. Could this package bring back a monster haul? Yes, it absolutely could but so could just Sale or Quintana by themselves. Adding Jones to the deal just makes it harder for the Sox to lose the trade, for two reasons.
First, the Sox aren’t going to win if they deal one of Sale or Quintana so they might as well move other pieces. In that case, Jones is less valuable to the Sox than he is to a contending organization. Second, due to the injury history if the Sox don’t move Jones and he gets hurt, they don’t get anything in return. Now if they package him, they could get something of value for him.
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So if the Sox want to win, either now or in the future, it is time for the organization find a direction. And when they decide on that direction stick to the course, and not deviate from it. This style of trade might happen, or it might not. But it is time for the Sox to choose a direction, and stick to it. And that move would be appreciated by all Sox fans.