White Sox

Sold: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox for package including baseball's No. 1 prospect

Sold: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox for package including baseball's No. 1 prospect

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The White Sox got their bidding war and found a price to their liking enough to trade Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday afternoon.

The teams completed a deal that sends the five-time All Star east to Boston in exchange for top Red Sox prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others. The White Sox also received Single-A outfielder Luis Basabe and Single-A pitcher Victor Diaz in a deal that has significantly boosts the farm system overnight. Three of the four players received were ranked in the top 10 players in Boston’s minor leagues, according to MLB.com, and all were within the top 30.

All the White Sox had to do was trade a homegrown pitcher who had the potential to be the best in franchise history and signal the start of what could be a massive rebuild.

“It’s hard,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “It’s real hard. He is one of our own. Or was one of our own. A homegrown guy who made his way to five All-Star Games and was controllable and projected to be damn good going forward. And it’s tough to give that up. At the same time, we have to be realistic about where we are and the likelihood of this current group getting to where we want to be. In the end you had to make the tough decision to let go of someone as valuable as Chris in order to pull back what we feel is a premium package that will help put us in a better position long term.”

The trade comes on the heels of a furious first day at the Winter Meetings where the White Sox saw multiple suitors make significant increases in their offers as part of a bidding war for Sale, who has finished in the top six in the American League Cy Young vote all five seasons he’s been a starting pitcher.

Moncada is the top player returning to the White Sox, the 2016 minor league player of the year and one Boston has previously insisted it wouldn’t part with after giving him a $31.5 million bonus in 2015.

MLB.com has Moncada, who turns 22 in May, listed as the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball. He hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 homers and 94 steals in 187 minor league games before he reached the majors at the end of the 2016 season.

Converted to third base by Boston, the rookie stuck out 12 times in 20 plate appearances in the bigs. But Hahn suggested Moncada could spend most, if not all, of 2017 in the minors and that he’ll return to second base.

Kopech is a hard-throwing right-hander who was the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox farm system and is already No. 2 with the White Sox. He’s also listed as the No. 30 overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.

After missing time because of a broken hand sustained in a spring training fight — “Basically, it was me trying to protect (a teammate). I’ll leave it at that. Yeah, and it kind of blew up on us,” Kopech told the Boston Globe last month — he went 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts at Single-A Salem last season, striking out 82 and walking 29 in 52 innings.

Kopech, who also received a 50-game suspension in 2015 after he tested positive for oxilofrine, followed up his regular-season showing with more dominance in the Arizona Fall League. He went 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings, walking eight.

Basabe, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, was the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox system and moved up to No. 7 with the White Sox. Diaz was No. 28 and is 29th with the White Sox after spending 2016 at Single-A Greenville.

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Two months after he said the first major move would highlight the White Sox direction, Hahn suggested more trades and that a deep rebuild is on the way.

“Today was the first step in what will very likely be an extended process but one that we feel, if we continue to acquire similar-type players with the upsides of the individuals that we acquired today, will be for the extended long-term benefit of the organization,” Hahn said.

The White Sox worked early into Tuesday morning as they began to field stronger offers from teams for Sale — who is owed $38 million over three years if his team options are exercised in 2018 and 2019 — starting late Monday.

The Washington Nationals reportedly offered a package that included pitcher Lucas Giolito and outfielder Victor Robles among others late Monday. The Houston Astros also made a strong push for Sale. But the Astros reportedly never included their top prospect Alex Bregman in any deals, and Washington wouldn’t part with Trea Turner.

All three teams offered four prospects in their packages for Sale, who is 27.

The White Sox had considered a deal for Sale since last July when Hahn said his club was once again “mired in mediocrity” as they fizzled after a 23-10 start. While Hahn said he wouldn’t tip his hand as to what direction the White Sox were headed, he has dropped a number of hints that they would begin a rebuild. Dissatisfied with a postseason drought now eight years long, the White Sox have decided to look at the long-term view as opposed to trying to piece together a club full of short-term fixes and what Hahn has described as “stopgaps” and “half-measures.”

Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski said as recently as last month that his club was satisfied with its rotation even after it was hit hard in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in the playoffs. Dombrowski reportedly wouldn’t include either Moncada or outfielder Andrew Benintendi in any deals for Sale as Boston was happy with its rotation, which includes 2016 AL Cy Young Rick Porcello.

But given they didn’t have to trade Sale unless their demands were met, the White Sox held firm knowing that suitors would come calling. Those offers began to improve as Monday wore on, especially after top free-agent pitcher Rich Hill signed a three-year, $48-million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Had he stayed with the White Sox, Sale had a chance to be the best pitcher in franchise history. The left-hander went 74-50 with a 3.00 ERA in 228 games (148 starts), striking out 1,244 batters in 1,110 innings. Sale has produced 27.9 Wins Above Replacement in his career, according to fangraphs.com.

The team’s first-round pick in 2010, Sale reached the majors that season, appearing in 21 games in relief. He was converted to a starting pitcher in 2012 and excelled almost immediately, earning his first All-Star Game nod that July.

Citing the desire to win a title with the White Sox, Sale signed a five-year contract extension at spring training in 2013, a deal that included club options for 2018 and 2019 that totaled $57.5 million. The left-handed didn’t disappoint, averaging 203-plus innings in each of his five seasons as a starter.

Perhaps frustrated by the team’s mediocrity, Sale was involved in two high-profile incidents in 2016 that brought attention from the national media and several Vine-worthy moments. He ripped executive vice president Kenny Williams for 15 minutes several days after a dispute between Williams and Adam LaRoche led to the veteran slugger’s abrupt retirement. Sale also received a five-game suspension in July for insubordination and destruction of team property when he destroyed the throwback jerseys the team was scheduled to wear that night because he didn’t like how they fit.

Hahn said the incidents didn’t impact the team’s decision nor did they affect Sale’s value.

“Certainly was uneasy with some of the situations, but at the same time, as Chris and I talked about today, it was usually motivated — rightly or wrongly — it was usually motivated for him out of competitiveness and a desire to fight for what he felt was right,” Hahn said. “That competitiveness and that fight is part of what makes him good in between the white lines.

“Sometimes it may have spilled over a little in a way I think he would say in retrospect wasn’t quite appropriate. But he understood that, and we understood where he was coming from.”

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

Subscribe:

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.