White Sox

How the White Sox and Red Sox worked out their Chris Sale megadeal

How the White Sox and Red Sox worked out their Chris Sale megadeal

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- It began with an exchange late last week between Rick Hahn and Dave Dombrowski, a simple inquiry to gauge the Boston Red Sox general manager’s interest in superstar Chris Sale.

Four days later, the White Sox and Boston finalized Tuesday what potentially could be a franchise-altering swap for both teams. The White Sox shipped Sale, their homegrown, five-time All-Star pitcher, to the Red Sox in exchange for a four-player package that includes two elite prospects, second baseman Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech. The move solidifies an already-outstanding Red Sox rotation that included two Cy Young winners and signifies the start of a potentially massive rebuild for the White Sox.

And it all started with a 6 p.m. phone call on Friday.

“I said, ‘Well, of course we have interest in Chris Sale. Anybody in baseball would have interest in Chris Sale,’” Dombrowski said from the Winter Meetings. “‘It would be a matter of what you were looking to acquire’ and we talked a little bit.

“He said, ‘Well, we're going to get away from some of the things that we've asked for in the past.’

“I said, ‘Well, we're prepared to give up a lot,’ which we know. And we went through some of the names. He talked to me Friday night, kind of put one thing in motion, if we would give up one player. Called me again Saturday, we had another name. And then we talked numerous times over the last few days.”

With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, Hahn called Dombrowski on Friday to initiate the conversation. Hahn said he’d previously fielded calls for a month after having “substantive” discussions at the GM meetings and knew there’d be interest and “positive momentum” once he arrived Sunday. He also knew the Red Sox not only wanted Sale, they had enough in place to make the deal.

Whereas in previous talks the White Sox desired Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi, they shifted their focus. Neither was involved in this round of talks as the White Sox first asked for Moncada, the 2016 minor league player of the year and MLB.com’s No. 1 overall prospect. Then they asked to include Kopech, who hit 105-mph on the radar gun in July and dominated hitters for 17 starts between Single-A and the Arizona Fall League.

Things only improved for the White Sox as the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros continued to show strong interest. A report surfaced on Monday night that the Nationals, though unwilling to trade Trea Turner, would include two top prospects, pitcher Lucas Giolito and outfielder Victor Robles, in a package for Sale. The Astros also improved their offer, though they never included top prospect Alex Bergman.

Each team offered a four-player package and White Sox officials returned to their suite and worked early into Tuesday morning to mull which offer was best.

“There was a great level of excitement since we got here about the caliber of players that we were likely to receive back,” Hahn said. “These are the type of impact players that we need to continue to acquire and build up to get our system to the point where we are able to have that extended run of success, and there were similar-type players being offered from other clubs, and there was a level of excitement in that room as we debated which was the best path for us.”

Dombrowski wrestled with the inclusion of Moncada, whom the Red Sox paid $63 million to sign in 2015, including a $31.5 million bonus and equivalent penalty for exceeding their international signing bonus pool. But in order to acquire an elite pitcher, Dombrowski knew he had to make it worth Hahn’s while.

“(Moncada is) a great player and if he's not a tremendous player I will be very surprised,” Dombrowski said. “But, again, you've got to give to get.”

White Sox officials returned to their suite early Tuesday morning and continued to deliberate the packages they would receive in exchange for potentially the best pitcher in the franchise’s long history. After several hours, Hahn sent everyone to lunch and finally made his decision, which led to a much different type of call to inform Sale he’d been traded.

“It was not an easy phone call to make, but one, quite frankly, based upon the return that we were able to procure in this trade was one that we were extremely excited about making,” Hahn said. “We have made no secret heading into the offseason our goal is to put ourselves in the best position to contend for an extended period of time for multiple championships. Given where we were as an organization entering this off-season, we knew we were going to have to make some painful decisions. But if we had the opportunity to acquire some high-impact talent that would be around for a number of years, it was time to start that process.”

Padres might have just topped everyone — including White Sox — with reported offer to Manny Machado north of $250 million

Padres might have just topped everyone — including White Sox — with reported offer to Manny Machado north of $250 million

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Enter the San Diego Padres as potential party-crashers in the Manny Machado sweepstakes.

Aside from an offhand mention of an offer from the New York Yankees, the only widely reported contract offer for the 26-year-old superstar free agent with numbers attached to it was the one from the White Sox. Depending on who you believe, it was for seven years and between $175 million and $250 million, though the high number was shot down by a flurry of counter-reports.

Well, the Padres have joined the club now, with multiple reports Sunday night indicating they've gone near or over $250 million — and gone to an eighth year — with their bid for Machado's services. One reported number was $280 million, which could potentially be as much as $100 million above the previously reported White Sox offer.

If those numbers are accurate, that's big news and could spur the need for a new offer from the White Sox, if they are in fact willing to do so.

General manager Rick Hahn has talked about his team's seriousness in acquiring a "premium talent" like Machado and has vowed that the White Sox will spend the kind of money that it takes to bring in a player of this caliber.

Asked during SoxFest about what he called the "false narrative" that the White Sox aren't willing to spend, Hahn said: "We’d love to disprove that during the coming weeks. We certainly have extended offers that would ruin that narrative, if accepted, but we're not there yet."

A new high offer out of San Diego could force the White Sox to make a new decision.

The Padres offer much of the same things that the White Sox have pitched to these big-name free agents. They have even more prospects ranked in the MLB Pipeline top 100 (10 of them, to be exact) than the White Sox and can pitch an equally bright future over the better part of the next decade. They have shown recent willingness to spend, handing out a six-figure contract to Eric Hosmer just last winter. Hosmer and Machado would make two pretty attractive centerpieces as Padres prospects, such as Fernando Tatis Jr. — the No. 2 prospect in the game who the White Sox traded for James Shields in 2016 — arrive in the big leagues.

And so with similar pitches being made, money would figure to make the difference. This isn't the Yankees, supposedly Machado's preferred destination, and so there could be fewer, if any, non-financial factors in a choice between these two teams.

Also of interest were a couple of reports from earlier Sunday describing talks between Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies as "intensifying." The Phillies have been the White Sox most prominent competition for Machado (and Harper, for that matter) this winter, but if they were able to land Harper, they would presumably be done chasing Machado. That would be good news for the White Sox. But if the late-arriving Padres are as serious as they're being reported to be, there's a possibility the White Sox walk away from this offseason without landing a monster free agent.

That wouldn't be the end of the world, with the franchise's rebuilding plans still firmly on track. But fans with raised expectations after hearing the White Sox tied to Harper and Machado for months would certainly feel disappointment. Hahn would, too. He said as much during SoxFest.

It's important to remember, of course, that there will be other opportunities to land premium talent. And it's also important to remember that news of an offer from the Padres doesn't mean Machado has accepted. The White Sox are in it until they aren't.

But things just got a little more interesting. Stay tuned.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez talks about winning a World Series

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez talks about winning a World Series

Eloy Jimenez sits down with Chuck Garfien at spring training. Jimenez talks about:

-Getting hit in the head in his very first at-bat when he was nine years old and later his first home run (06:05)

-Why he has long believed that he was meant to play in Chicago (08:00)

-Meeting Jim Thome for the first time (10:40)

-Why he thought about quitting baseball in his first season in the Cubs organization (12:15)

-Not getting called up to the majors last season (15:40)

-Michael Kopech calling him "the Babe Ruth of our generation (18:10)

-How he, Micker Adolfo and Luis Basabe talk everyday about winning a World Series (19:40)

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.