I read today on mlbtraderumors.com that the White Sox are “listening” to trade offers on Chris Sale. That made me curious to see how long Sale has until free agency.
Sale will have six years of service time at the end of this season, but he signed what has turned out to be a sweetheart deal for the Pale Hose, which has him receiving a guaranteed $12 million in 2017 followed by two team options for 2018 and 2019 for a grand total of only $26 million more. It doesn’t get much better than that for a team in today’s market for a pitcher with Sale’s chops.
In short, why would you trade a No. 1 starter with three more full seasons of control on these terms? You wouldn’t, except for the fact that I read on espn.com today that Sale and White Sox management aren’t getting along.
The White Sox pulled Sale from his start tonight when he got into it in the clubhouse with someone from the front office. Sale complained about having to wear a throw-back uniform, which sounds like a dumb complaint unless the uniform is overly baggy or otherwise uncomfortable, and it escalated from there. However, the argument reportedly never became physical.
The back-story on this is that Sale was one of the ChiSox players most unhappy with the way Executive Vice President Kenny Williams handled the Adam Laroche situation this spring. Also, after a tremendous start to the 2016 season (they were in first place as late as May 27th), the Sox have since gone over a cliff and are now in fourth place in their division, 10.5 games back. That’s going to make for some very unhappy campers in the White Sox clubhouse.
Sale’s season has mimicked the team’s. He was almost unhittable through his May 19th start. Since then, his ERA has jumped from 1.58 to 3.18 over his last ten starts.
If you were going to trade Sale for the best possible return, now might be the time to do it. He’s 14-3 and he’s controllable for all those future seasons at a bargain price. However, his strikeout rate is the lowest of his career so far, and he’s been worked pretty hard the last few seasons, at least for a guy who is listed as 6’6″ and 180 lbs. In other words, there are indications a major arm injury could be in his not so distant future.
All of that said, I don’t fully understand how the strictly verbal argument that has been reported results in Sale being pulled from his start. Obviously, he’s the team ace, and in today’s game I don’t see how management apparently sending a message that the best player on the team is still just another employee who has to toe management’s line is going to create a winning mentality in the clubhouse.