What do the White Sox do with ace left-hander Chris Sale now?
Before the ‘‘clubhouse incident’’ Saturday that reportedly involved Sale cutting up throwback jerseys because they were uncomfortable, the Sox were in a position of strength on trade offers for him.
‘‘Well, he’s the ace of the staff,’’ catcher Alex Avila said before the game. ‘‘So he means quite a bit.’’
With a team-friendly contract that would keep Sale on the South Side through 2019 for a mere $38 million, the Sox had the luxury of playing the field and waiting for a trade offer too good to refuse.
According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Sox were asking for five prospects in a deal for Sale. And one general manager told Heyman the Sox would be able to get that much in return.
But will Sale be as desirable after his fourth public blowup in less than two years? It’s reasonable to wonder whether a team still will take a chance on Sale and, if so, what the Sox can expect in return.
The trade deadline Aug. 1 is eight days away, and Sale has been a top target around the majors.
Sale (14-3, 3.38 ERA) was an All-Star for the fifth consecutive season and is in the running for his first Cy Young Award. He has finished among the top six in the voting in each of the last four seasons.
The Rangers have been one of Sale’s biggest suitors. According to MLB.com, outfielder Nomar Mazara is on the Sox’ wish list, but the Rangers aren’t willing to trade him. Prospects Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo are involved in discussions, though.
The Marlins, Blue Jays, Tigers and Braves are among the other teams reported to have inquired about Sale.
The Sox, meanwhile, still might be targeting their own playoff push in 2016 or in any of the next three seasons. In that case, trading Sale would be unlikely.
In the meantime, the Sox are trying to keep trade-deadline stress to a minimum. Scheduled Sunday starter Jose Quintana, whose name has come up in trade discussions, said he’s tuning all of it out.
‘‘I don’t pay attention to that,’’ Quintana said. ‘‘I don’t have control over that. I just have my focus here, and that’s it.’’
Still, Quintana said he wants to remain with the Sox.
‘‘I like it here,’’ he said. ‘‘And I want to win here. And I’m here. I’m here for now.’’
And Sale? Well, he’s still here, too. For now.