Role Reversal: Could White Sox Acquire Chris Sale?

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Sep 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) throws against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) throws against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chris Sale was the White Sox first All-Star game starter since 2005.
Jul 15, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chris Sale was the White Sox first All-Star game starter since 2005. USA TODAY Sports /

Trust me, I get it. As a writer for FutureSox, I spend a great deal of time examining the White Sox farm system and I wasn’t immune to low-balling sellers when trying to add to this roster. In fact, I’ve even been lucky enough to talk with some White Sox prospects, so I’ve gotten a small sample of what it’s like to put a face or voice next to a name.

Trade Carson Fulmer for Carlos Gonzalez? Tim Anderson for Todd Frazier? Give me a break.

But it sparked the question, what if I were a Boston Red Sox fan sitting behind my keyboard? A Los Angeles Dodgers fan? What would I give up for Sale?

The truth is this exercise doesn’t work. Why? Because that first newborn mentality, that infatuation with prospects, is exclusive to my own kin. Sure, I like the Red Sox’s Andrew Benintendi as a prospect but I could trade him easier than I could Zack Collins.

That’s because Collins is one of my own and I saw myself falling into the same trap we like to criticize others for finding themselves in.

It dawned on me that to understand the weight of these packages I was asking other fans and indirectly teams to part with, I had to juxtapose it against something with clearer context. I arrived at that context when I decided to make my own Sale package, using solely White Sox players.

This is a solid thought exercise and one I encourage you to do on your own. Even if you arrive at different names than I do, just getting the wheels turning is valuable. Not only did this give me insight into what the White Sox would need to pull the trigger, but it also illustrated why rebuilding is even on the table. Simply put, the White Sox would have to clear out their farm for Sale and that’s why the list of suitors is shorter than you think.

I’m going to try to detach myself from these players and give what I think is fair value for a cost-controlled ace.

And yet this still feels somewhat light. Any team talking with the White Sox is naturally going to start the conversation with Anderson. I deemed him untouchable, just as Corey Seager is untouchable for the Dodgers and Yoan Moncada likely is for the Red Sox.

For the sake of discussion, I tried to mirror this package around what the White Sox are reportedly targeting. Chicago absolutely wants one big league piece back just as I’d expect a hypothetical seller to demand as well.

With Anderson out, that piece is Eaton. This actually proves a more concerted point about why in the real world, Eaton is highly unlikely to be traded. This is largely because he’s the type of player the White Sox should seek in a Sale trade, not one they should necessarily dangle.

Eaton has 5 years/$38.4 million left on his deal if attractive club options are picked up. He’ll be  28-33 years-old during the length of that contract. This isn’t dissimilar to the contract, talent, and age situation of Jackie Bradley Jr.

If you want a Dodgers comp for Eaton as a headliner based on control and overall value, it’s probably Joc Pederson. For the Astros, George Springer.

These are the major league players Chicago will likely target. As a 6.0 fWAR player in 2016, the inclusion of Eaton definitely keeps a rival GM on the phone.

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