MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox

Chris Sale Traded to Boston

There is a lot to unpack here, and we will analyze this trade to death in the coming hours and days, but Chris Sale has been traded to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz.

Depending on whom you ask, Moncada is somewhere between the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball to anywhere down to 10ish or so.  He has massive tools — power, speed, etc. — but has had barely any time at Double-A or Triple-A, so I would hope the White Sox give him most of 2017 in the minors. He’s been playing primarily third base, but his natural position is at 2B, where he was blocked in Boston.  Nothing is blocking him in Chicago.  There is a non-zero chance Moncada turns into a world-eating MVP candidate, which would be very cool, although Sale was already a world-eating Cy Young candidate.

Kopech is a flamethrower in the low minors who sits touching triple digits and has popped 102-103. His change has evidently improved to go along with his low-90s slider that may be a plus pitch. The question here is “starter or reliever?” because the guys who throw this hard are overwhelmingly unable to hold up as starters. Our prospect team has him as a reliever.

Basabe is a toolsy outfield prospect who played 2016 as a 19 year old in low-A and acquitted himself well without dominating. Evidently he has contact issues, particularly from the right side as he is a switch hitter.  There are worse profiles than “possible switch-hitting center fielder” but he’s a long way away.

Overall, our prospect team had this trio at Boston’s Nos. 2, 5, and 6 prospects, respectively,  and you can read more about all three of them here.  Jeff Paternostro had a quick hit on Diaz as well.  He’s a 22-year-old reliever who spent all of 2016 in A-ball but apparently he’s a velocity guy.  In sum, a lot of this seems to turn on whether Kopech is a starter or a reliever, with Kopech kind of needing to be a starter for this package to be “worth it.”

There are a lot of general principles that apply to this trade that are cause for concern.  “Don’t trade a superstar to Dave Dombrowski for prospects.”  “Pitchers who sit at 100 mph basically never stick as starters.” “The White Sox have no idea how to fix a prospect’s contact problems.” “Why wasn’t Rafael Devers included for Chris freaking Sale?” etc.

It is also problematic to think that if this organization couldn’t win with Chris Sale on the cheap, what makes us more hopeful for the next crop of good young players when they arrive?

Emotionally, this removes the most fun thing about the White Sox. No matter what happened, watching Sale every fifth day was a treat over the past few years, and any given start he could eviscerate his opposition in breathtaking fashion and put on a show all by himself. That’s gone.  And as my fiancee said, “But now Chris Sale is going to pitch for the Red Sox and that’s horrible.” There’s that, too.

But hey, at least the agony is over, a direction has been picked, and Sale gets to pitch for a team that will score runs and play defense for him, and White Sox fans have some cool new prospects to dream on.  Given this return, it seems clear the White Sox cannot push their chips in for 2017, and so it would only make sense for Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, and even David Robertson to be on the block this winter or as the season progresses.  The more interesting question becomes whether they also deal Adam Eaton and/or Jose Abreu and/or Jose Quintana.  That would signal whether they intend to try to win again in 2018 or further beyond.

Lead Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

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10 comments on “Chris Sale Traded to Boston”


At long last, it appears the White Sox have picked a lane.

I am assuming the phone is now ringing off the hook for Quintana, Eaton, Abreu, Frazier and Robertson. Good. All deck chairs should go over the side now.


Don’t see why they didn’t get Benintendi, or at least Devers in the package too.

Nick Schaefer

I guess the Red Sox didn’t want to part with Devers, Shaw, and Moncada all on the same day, because that would nuke 3B for them for a long time.

Then again, the supporting package feels light without at least Devers in there too.


Necessary first step. Preferred Moncada and Kopech to Giolito and Robles. Now the difficult part getting max value for the rest.

Nick Schaefer

I think it’s fair to prefer those two to the Washington two, although I’ve heard from some who prefer the other.

I’m mostly disappointed that Kopech is 2 in the deal and that Basabe is 3.


I hear you on thinking the return is a little light. I think they waited a year too long for the mega return.

Nick Schaefer

Hard to say. Even 3 years of Sale is kind of unprecedented as a piece being moved. 4 years coming off of his 2015…

I don’t know what that package would even look like. Theoretically the market for front line pitching this winter is WAY worse than last year. Last year teams they were negotiating with could say, “Nuts to this, I’m gonna go sign Greinke/Price/Zimmermann.”

Now it’s what…Hammel and Hellickson?


Keep in mind that Moncada had $30m+ left on his original deal and Boston is paying all of that. I think Rick Hahn did very well here with that factored into the four players they got back.

Nick Schaefer

Evidently that money was his signing bonus and it is customary for the signing team to pay those in this situation. No additional bargaining required.

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