Why would this be the case?
Hearing Chris Sale price tag still high. “Maybe even higher” than in july. Still, there’s hope for a winter meeting auction
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 25, 2016
Well, posturing. Posturing is a really good explanation. The next leaked rumor of the White Sox shopping someone that isn’t married to reports of inflated asking prices will be a sign of some changing of the guard. Maybe a truly universally reviled player will just get rushed out for the first deal available, but Chris Sale called Kenny Williams a liar in public and ruined a team promotion and is still getting talked up as being worth a stable of unicorns in return.
One read, my read, and possibly a wrong read, is that last deadline’s shopping of Sale was more of a toeing of the waters, and this Winter is seeing more of a legit attempt to maximize a trade return to kickstart a rebuild.
But then again, Sale is the hardest piece on the roster for which to find fair value in trade. He will still pull a king’s ransom next Winter, even with a down year, and probably will still pull a nigh-unprecedented haul in July. He is the rare Sox asset with no nearing expiration date for a trade. So it is very interesting to see Sale’s name floated in rumors and no one else’s, not even, say, Jose Abreu.
Abreu will be 30 in January, is a massive slugger not renowned for top tier bat speed nor athleticism, and would be tagged as likely for a steep decline even if he wasn’t already on a two-year slide. The Sox have likely already blown through their window to win with him as a core piece, especially if they are about to step back from competing for two-to-four years. Maybe it’s a lot easier to sell two-and-a-half years of Abreu after a red hot first half, rather than three years of a possibly curdling Abreu in a free agent market that actually might be flush with first baseman if it’s flush with anything at all.
But that’s just one example of several secondary pieces whose quiet market is curious if the Sox are trying to make a legit rebuild effort, and perhaps lends credence to the notion that shopping Sale is a litmus test for rebuilding at all, and this front office is every bit as split on the merits of a fire sale as they make themselves out to be publicly. Or Sale is such a powerful piece that he was naturally going to dominate discussion no matter what, and is actually the only chip big enough to break through the White Sox typical firewall against leaks and rumors.
The CBA drama also has a staggering effect on everything, and the last time the White Sox pulled a major trade before having a chance to hash it out at the Winter Meetings was when they roped in Mark Teahen in early November of 2009. The year before, they traded Nick Swisher to the Yankees in mid-November 2008, so perhaps patience is just fine.
Until then, the Sox will just remain an unknowable franchise at a crossroads with no public concept of how next season, nor the next five seasons will look. Marketing has to be loving this.
Lead Image Credit: Patrick Gorski // USA Today Sports Images