The Chris Sale trade watch came and went.
But all eyes will remain on Sale, even after the non-waiver trade deadline passed at 3 p.m. Monday with the White Sox holding firm to their position of “blow us away or go away” regarding the All-Star Game starting pitcher and top American League Cy Young -candidate.
While the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers were known to be in discussions with general manager Rick Hahn, the Sox were not offered the package of four or five players it would have taken to land their ace, or their other prized lefty, Jose Quintana. Their thin system could use a burst of young talent, major-league-ready players and prospects combined, those pitchers would fetch.
But no one came close enough with anything Hahn would even bounce off chairman Jerry -Reinsdorf. We know the Sox asked for a lot.
“The Sox will not budge off their huge asking price,” an American League Central source said, not anticipating a trade Monday morning. “Could [a trade] happen? Sure. Is it likely? No.”
One has to wonder now how Sale, 27, who has been to five All-Star Games but no playoff games, feels about all this. He said winning means everything, and his uniform cut-up caper last week demonstrated his growing frustration. It came a couple days after Hahn, admitting his team was “mired in mediocrity,” wasn’t ruling out trading anyone.
How much patience does Sale have? Here’s one opinion:
“He is probably so [ticked] off with all this lingering over his head he will be ready to move on this winter,” the source said. “Sometimes life can imitate art. Well, in baseball, rumors become a reality if they linger long enough.”
Sale is on record as saying he wants to win with his current teammates, so perhaps he’s happy -veteran left-hander Zach Duke was the only one dealt before the deadline, for Cardinals Class AAA outfield prospect Charlie Tilson. Tilson will join the Sox on Tuesday in Detroit (J.B. Shuck, batting .219, was optioned to Class AAA Charlotte on Monday to make room).
But that was it for trades. The Sox (51-54) went 28-44 over the last 2½ months, leaving Hahn no choice but to sell, not buy, at the deadline. But none of the offers for Sale, Quintana, closer David Robertson or starter James Shields, to name a few, was worth a move.
“We had a number of conversations with just about every team in baseball at one point or another over the last week-plus,” Hahn said. “But ultimately no other deals presented themselves that made sense for the White Sox from a long-term competitiveness -standpoint.
Hahn said having a limited number of players, Justin Morneau and catchers Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro included, not under contract control at the end of the year limited his urgency to trade now.
And the Sox certainly weren’t pressing to trade Sale — his recent dustups with management -notwithstanding — knowing the market could improve during an offseason when the free-agent -market for pitching will be thin. While they didn’t make a deal before the deadline, the Sox “established their market for him,” the source said. “So they set the bar for a winter deal. Teams that want an elite pitcher know what this one will cost.
“Waiting until the winter allows for more teams to plan, regroup, enter the sweepstakes.”
Yes it does. Maybe then, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers, etc., will sweeten the pot.
“We expect a different [market] dynamic at that point,” Hahn said. “And given there was nothing at this point that led to us wanting to move, we felt better about -continuing to keep our valuable, premium talent that is controllable and could help us conceivably win over the next several years.”
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