Posted on December 6, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Boston Red Sox have acquired ace Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox in a blockbuster trade. Multiple outlets have confirmed that the Red Sox have made a deal for Sale, sending four prospects to the White Sox: second baseman Yoan Moncada, pitchers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz, and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe.
In recent days, the White Sox saw the number of suitors for Sale diminish, leaving the Washington Nationals as the favorites to land him. However, the Red Sox reportedly made a strong push for him on Tuesday and gave the White Sox what they wanted in order to part with Sale. The trade is the second the Red Sox made on Tuesday after acquiring reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the day.
Sale joins an already strong Red Sox rotation that includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, David Price, knuckleballer Steven Wright, and lefties Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz. That rotation, without Sale, helped lead Boston to an AL East title in 2016, but did not get the job done in the postseason. With Sale now part of the mix, the Red Sox have arguably the top rotation in baseball. Of course, Sale has no postseason experience, but he would obviously make Boston’s rotation look more formidable if the Red Sox are able to return to the postseason in 2017.
Moncada is the biggest piece going to the White Sox in the trade. His presence in the deal is likely what convinced Chicago to agree to trade Sale. The Red Sox spent $63 million (half his signing bonus and half in luxury tax) to sign Moncada in March 2015. The 21-year old Cuban shot through the minors in 2016 and made eight appearances for Boston towards the end of the season, although he may require more seasoning in the minors before he’s ready for a full time job in the big leagues.
He’s a plus hitter who has a chance to hit for a high average and provide above-average power. Moncada also has plus speed, stealing 45 bases in the minors last season. Defensively, Moncada fits best at second base, although the Red Sox did move him to third base last season with second base being blocked by Dustin Pedroia. In Chicago, both second baseman Brett Laurie and third baseman Todd Frazier are one year away from free agency, potentially opening the door for Moncada at either spot.
Kopech is one of Boston’s top pitching prospects after being drafted by the Red Sox 33rd overall in 2014. He has one of the best fastballs of any minor league player. Kopech also has a low-90s slider that looks like a potential plus pitch, as well as a changeup that is making good strides. He’s likely a couple years away from the majors, but has the potential to be a frontline starter, especially if he can hone his control.
As for Diaz, he is a hard-throwing reliever who is at least a couple years from the majors. He features an upper 90’s fastball, as well as a slider and splitter that are inconsistent but show promise. Diaz also has control issues, but if he can improve in that area, he has the potential to be a late-game relief pitcher in the majors. Finally, there’s Basabe, an outfielder who is also a year or two away from the majors. He’s a great athlete with five-tool potential as a center fielder, but he has much to prove as a hitter as he moves through the minors.
After acquiring Sale, the Red Sox will undoubtedly be in the conversation as the biggest winners of the offseason. Boston has acquired arguably the best player who will switch teams this winter, adding an ace to a rotation that already has two Cy Young winners. The White Sox, meanwhile, add four outstanding prospects who all have the potential to be impact major leaguers. Outside Moncada, the prospects acquired won’t contribute much for another two or three years, but there’s no denying Chicago has added loads of talent to its farm system.