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SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox throws a pitch during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 634458327

Sox’ Williams refuses to discuss Chris Sale trade rumors

SHARE Sox’ Williams refuses to discuss Chris Sale trade rumors
SHARE Sox’ Williams refuses to discuss Chris Sale trade rumors

After making substantial offseason splashes the last two years adding big-name talent, the White Sox appear poised for a major selloff this offseason.

There’s little question the Sox are willing to listen on offers for first baseman Jose Abreu, third baseman Todd Frazier, relievers David Robertson and Nate Jones, and outfielders Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera.

But it seems most teams are interested in left-handers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.

Reports across the country Tuesday had teams already lining up for Sale trade talks, notably the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Bravesseemed to have stepped up their interest. They join the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, who all began showing deep interest during last July’s trade deadline.

The question is how much of a rebuild are the Sox interested in staging this offseason. It has been a closely guarded secret.

A full rebuild — a Cubs-style tanking that could take five years — would likely involve moving Sale, despite his age (he will be 28 on March 30) and his reasonable contract (he’s owed $12 million in 2017, with team options worth $12.5 million in 2018 and $13.5 million in 2019).

Sale would bring the haul of young talent the Sox need to begin their rebuild.And the feeling around baseball is that the Sox would be willing to deal Sale if a team overwhelms them with a package of young talent in return.

That’s where the Braves seem to stand out.

The Braves will be opening a new ballpark in 2017 and they have already made two big win-now moves in adding veteran pitchers Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey in the last week. And the Braves have a ton of young talent, starting with center fielders Ender Inciarte and Mallex Smith.

Atlanta also has a stockpile of young pitching prospects, including Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler, Sean Newcomb, Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka, Toussaint and Max Fried.

Sale also has had a turbulent relationship with the front office, publicly ripping vice president Ken Williams for his handling of the Adam LaRoche issue last spring training and for cutting up his throwback jersey before a game last summer.

Do the Sox have a desire to trade their most marketable chip this offseason?

Williams wasn’t biting Tuesday, during the annual White Sox Amateur City Elite baseball program event that features student-athletes signing letters of intent.

Williams always attends the event, but refused to discuss the Sox’ offseason plan.

“In the past, I’ve answered questions with regards to baseball and that seems to end up on the evening news,” he said. “The kids are the focus tonight and they should have their moment and we’ll defer all baseball questions to another time when I can deflect them.”

Last week at the general managers’ meetings, GM Rick Hahn touched on the idea of a full rebuild of the White Sox to build a winner with staying power, rather than trying to win now at all costs.

“But we aren’t going to continue to take half-measures, so to speak, in order to hopefully, in some instances, catch lightning in a bottle or catch some upside here on a short-term basis in order to win,” Hahnsaid last week. “We want to put ourselves in the best and firmest position to win on a sustainable basis going forward. If that requires a longer term view or perhaps some short-term hardships along the way, we realize it’s going to be for the greater good.”

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