The day after the 2016 season had ended, the White Sox called a press conference to announce Ricky Renteria as their new field manager. General Manager Rick Hahn was there to introduce Renteria and, in so doing, spelled out a few things about the coming off season and what it would bring for the organization. You’d be able to tell, he said, the direction of the club by the first big move they make.
Chris Sale is headed to Boston and a massive prospect haul is headed back to the White Sox.
The direction, it seems, is getting younger, deeper and better. Questions remain, of course, as to just how deep and thorough the seeming rebuild will be. As for the Red Sox, they’re getting one of the best pitchers in baseball. In his seven years with the White Sox, Sale both made the All Star team and finished in the top six of the Cy Young voting each year he was a member of the White Sox rotation. A voracious competitor, Sale wasn’t without incident with the Sox. Still, in the end, his focus was on winning games. Unfortunately, that’s something the club wasn’t able do enough of and in moving Sale, they hope to deepen a young talent base that will mature into contenders.
As for the return on Sale, it’s huge. Yoan Moncada is rated by many as the top prospect in baseball. Though his first eight games at the big league level were a struggle, he was promoted to the Bigs straight from AA. It’s not unthinkable that the White Sox would keep Moncada in the minor leagues to start the 2017 season. He’ll turn 22 in May 27th so some seasoning could be worthwhile. Regardless, Sox fans should be able to dream of a stellar double play combo in Tim Anderson and Moncada and witness it in just a short time.
Michael Kopech is the the second best prospect in the deal and was the third ranked player in Boston’s treasure chest. Kopech, though it may be a bit apocryphal, reportedly hit 105 mph during a minor league outing last year. At 20 years old with flowing blond locks and a huge frame, the comparisons to Mets Ace Noah Syndergaard are many. Kopech’s arrival to the majors may be a bit farther away as he’s only thrown at the high A level. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, ranked 8th in the Red Sox system, and right hander Victor Diaz complete the haul.
While the return on Sale has plenty of value, questions remain about how much more the White Sox intend to do this winter. It’s conceivable that with their number one starter traded, they see what kind of impact their still talented core could make come April. Equally understandable would be the idea of trading off key members of that core. Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier would all bring back quality returns. Like the Yankees at last summer’s trade deadline, the White Sox could be have a rebuild well underway and have talent ready for competing at the majors in short order.
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