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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Sep 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Yet the Red Sox could easily beat this package. A package involving Bradley Jr., C Blake Swihart, LHP Jason Groome, 1B Sam Travis, and OF Luis Alexander Basabe is a very similar framework and probably has more aggregate value.

This says nothing of the fact Chicago would likely demand Benintendi, Rafael Devers, or more likely both in a Sale trade. Those two players are numbers five and 16 respectively on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. For context, Fulmer and Collins are 57th and 80th, though I expect Collins to shoot up in these rankings during 2017. Even so, the White Sox lack that true blue chipper to pair with Eaton.

The other thing this exercise illustrates is how shallow Chicago’s farm system remains.

The Red Sox could part with a comparable package and barely skip a beat on both the big league roster and the farm. They’d still have Moncada and Michael Kopech among others..

If the White Sox were to acquire Sale, their farm would be absolutely pillaged.

Suddenly it’s easy to see why Braves fans are reluctant to part with an Ender Inciarte, Ozzie Albies, Maitan, Ian Anderson, and Travis Demeritte style package for Sale. It really clears out the top end of the cupboard.

Again, this is why teams like the Dodgers and Red Sox profile the best because they can absorb the necessary hit with relative ease.

I’m biased toward Sale and I’m biased toward White Sox prospects. This exercise generated forced choice and I feel better for doing it because my optics around value have shifted.

At the same time, we all need to view prospects through a different lens because after all the “proven” quality of Sale weighed against the risk/reward of any package is what is so difficult to quantify. Back in 2013, I would have been crucified for suggesting Henry Owens, Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Lavarnway for Chris Sale. It would have looked like a disproportional overpay to all parties. Now, it would be regarded as a coup in favor of Boston. That’s the built-in risk when trading your ace because the house of cards just may collapse.

Hindsight is 2020, and in 2020 we’ll probably have good fodder for discussion regarding all of this. What’s important now is to not let our intrinsic attachment of assets cloud our judgement. And that goes for both sides.

Next: Do Blue Jays Match Up Well in Trade For Adam Eaton?

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