At the moment, the MLB trade market looks roughly as exciting as the Detroit Tigers’ platoon in right field. There isn’t much talent to be found, and the players in the discussion are probably getting far more attention than they deserve (Tyler Collins did hit that one home run, though).
Luckily, both of those topics are heating up quickly. On the trade front, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports dropped a doozy of a rumor when he reported that the Chicago White Sox are listening to offers for star starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. The Sox currently sit in fourth place in the AL Central with a 46-49 record, and according to their general manager, are “mired in mediocrity.” They have been on the buy-sell fence for most of the month, but a poor start in the second half has them leaning towards selling.
So instead of trading away spare parts, they might just blow it all up and start over. They have already received offers on Sale — Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that one involved a “king’s ransom” in return and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan says the Texas Rangers are very interested — and should receive several more phone calls as rumors spread. Both Sale and Quintana are light years better than any of the other starting pitchers currently on the trade block, and could jumpstart a rebuild on the South Side if their ownership gives the front office the go-ahead.
Naturally, a White Sox fire sale is great news for the rest of the division. Losing even one of Sale or Quintana makes the White Sox a much easier team to beat in a three or four-game series this season, and both starters are under club control for several more years (Sale through 2019, Quintana through 2020). Selling off one of those starters would mean the Sox are also likely trading off other pieces, further weakening their roster both now and in the next couple seasons. Including Friday’s game, the Tigers have 12 more games remaining agains the White Sox this season.
The 27-year-old Sale, a five-time All-Star, needs no introduction at this point. He has a career 2.95 ERA and 3.06 FIP in just over 1,000 career innings, and has been worth 25.6 fWAR. Scouts originally projected him as a reliever due to his unconventional delivery, but he has silenced doubters multiple times over in becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Quintana doesn’t have the flashy win-loss record Sale does — he leads baseball in no-decisions since 2012 — but he has a 3.42 ERA and 3.46 FIP in five major league seasons, and is on pace to top 200 innings pitched for the fourth year in a row. He has been worth 17.9 fWAR in 866 2/3 career innings, and has been trending in the right direction ever since making it into the big leagues. Quintana finally received national recognition this year when he made his first All-Star team.
Even if the White Sox hit it big on a trade for either Sale or Quintana — it’s hard to envision them trading both given how cheap their contracts are — it would be a few years before they truly become relevant again. One of the more famous deadline deals in recent years, a 2007 trade involving Mark Teixeira, didn’t pay off for the Texas Rangers until two years later. The White Sox also have a very shallow farm system, even with young talents like Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer pushing through the ranks.
A blockbuster trade of this type may be necessary for the White Sox. They don’t have the spending power to buy their way out of this no-man’s land they find themselves in, and don’t have the prospects to improve their roster from within. The current core is locked in for another season, but with how they have performed after an unsustainable start, it would be foolish for them to stand pat and hope things go better in 2017. Trading either Sale or Quintana (or both, if they get bold) would jumpstart a rebuild and put them in position to contend in future seasons.
But for now? Go ahead, Chicago. The Tigers could use those extra wins.