What You Need To Know About The Chris Sale Trade
I didn't want it to happen, and even as it became clearer that it was going to happen, and the White Sox were going to tear it all down and start over, I just hoped harder that it wouldn't. But it has.
Chris Sale has been traded to the Boston Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe and Victor Diaz.
What do you need to know about the trade? I'll try to fill you in as best I can as I type these words through the pain.
WHO THE HELL ARE THESE GUYS WE'RE GETTING?
The headliner in the deal is clearly Yoan Moncada. He's widely regarded by many to be the top prospect in baseball, and Baseball America's Jim Callis described him as "Robinson Cano with more speed." Even if he's Robinson Cano with the same speed, that would be pretty good because Robinson Cano will probably be in the Hall of Fame one day.
Moncada was not drafted by the Red Sox, but signed as a free agent out of Cuba for $31.5 million in March 2015. While still a youngster in Cuba, Moncada played on the same team as Jose Abreu. Which would mean we have a reunion in store, except I doubt Jose Abreu will still be on the team by the time spring training starts.
Anyway, Moncada is a switch-hitting second baseman who many believe will eventually end up at third, but some believe he can stick at second. The truth is he's enough of an athlete to play just about anywhere on the field, save for maybe catcher, and besides, whichever position he plays, his glove is only average at best.
It's his bat, legs and arm that cause people to take notice.
In 187 minor league games between Single-A and Double-A Moncada has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI, 50 doubles and 94 stolen bases. The 24.2% strikeout rate is a bit of a concern, but the fact he pairs it with a walk rate of 13.3% shows that he's not just a hacker. He has command of the strike zone, which usually bodes well for a 21-year old prospect that's still maturing.
THIS ALL SOUNDS VERY GOOD!
It is. Moncada is easily the best prospect that the White Sox have had in a very long time. When top 100 prospect lists come out we just hope to see one of our guys on the list, and are thrilled if he's in the top 50.
Moncada is going to be in the top five of every single one of them, and and the top of more than a few.
SWEET. WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER GUYS?
The other headliner is Michael Kopech. He was drafted in the 1st round as a comp pick by the Red Sox in 2014 out of high school. He throws really fucking hard. And I say fucking hard, because the 20-year old righty has been clocked at 105 before.
That's not to say he works at 105, but that he's reached it.
Scouting reports say Kopech's fastball typically sits between 95 and 97, and that it has late movement, which is always a plus. I'd rather have a 93mph fastball that moved than 98 and straight, and Kopech seems to be able to do both. He pairs that fastball with an above average slider that sits in the low 90s, and an average changeup. Scouts do believe the change can improve because like his fastball, it moves late.
Scouting reports believe Kopech has a chance to develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter eventually, maybe even one like the guy he was just traded for.
Next on the list is Luis Alexander Basabe. The Alexander part is important because Luis has a twin brother named Luis Alejandro Basabe who used to be in the Red Sox organization as well, but was traded to the Diamondbacks.
Anyway, Basabe is a 20-year old switch-hitting outfielder. He's toolsy. Scouting reports say he has a way to go at the plate, but still shows signs of power and a command of the strike zone, but pitch recognition is a problem. They also say he has good speed, and is a smart baserunner. Defensively he's above average with a strong arm, and could be an every day centerfielder in the long run.
Finally there's Victor Diaz. A right-handed reliever who throws very hard. His fastball sits between 95 and 98, but occasionally reaches 100. Like a lot of similar types, while he throws hard, he doesn't always know where it's going. So basically think of Diaz as a guy who could become a very good closer/late-inning reliever should he figure out how to harness his fastball. Given the Sox' history as an organization of working with Diaz types, it's not exactly impossible.
SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TRADE?
YOU DON'T LIKE THE RETURN?
No, I like the return fine. It's probably as good of a deal as you could realistically get for Chris Sale. I mean, we got the top prospect in baseball. It's hard to get a better prospect than the best one!
The problem is we traded Chris Sale, and it's hard to be excited about the idea that your team just traded the best pitcher it's ever had. It's harder to be excited about being a fan of a team that's about to enter a rebuild process under the leadership of the same people who couldn't put together a team around the best pitcher in franchise history.
So, yeah, the White Sox have picked a lane, and I suppose that's a good thing, but it doesn't really matter which lane you're in when the person driving the car is blind. Eventually you're going to go off the road.
WHEN DO YOU THINK ANY OF THESE GUYS ARE IN CHICAGO?
I'd imagine the first one we'll see is Moncada. He could be up as soon as next season, though I don't think he'll start the season in Chicago, but is more likely a call up later in the year. Whether that's in May or September will probably depend on how Moncada is doing in the minors to start the season.
Both Kopech and Basabe are really young, so to expect to see them before 2018 would be wishful thinking. Even that might be too early, so I'd say 2019 is the realistic target.
As for Diaz, he's 22. I would wager his ascension to Chicago is based strictly upon how well he learns to command his stuff. We all know this organization isn't shy about promoting pitchers in a hurry, especially to use them out of the bullpen.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENS NEXT?
I believe we'll see more trades. The Rockies have already been snooping around Jose Abreu, and I wouldn't be surprised if all the legwork between the Sox and Nationals about a potential Sale trade doesn't end up in Jose Quintana going to Washington instead.
Now that Sale has been traded it really doesn't make any sense to stop now, so I'd imagine anybody not named Tim Anderson or Carlos Rodon is available for the right price.