How does trade affect Chris Sale's Fantasy value?
Well, you don't hire Dave Dombrowski to not trade all of your top prospects for big names, you know?
Red Sox fans upset or wary about the team's decision to acquire Chris Sale should get used to it. You don't get upset at the sky for being blue, and you don't get upset at Dombrowski selling the farm for an All-Star.
The Red Sox didn't quite give up the whole farm here, of course. It's a big farm they've got up there. But they did sell the barn -- is the barn the best part of a farm? I'm from Miami, I've never seen a farm -- in Yoan Moncada along with Michael Kopech and two other prospects, according to reports.
Moncada immediately becomes the White Sox top prospect, by dint of being nearly the consensus top prospect in all of baseball. Kopech is the prototypical Texas high school pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the high-90's and a power profile -- complete with a sharp slider and the command issues typical of prospects with his profile. This is a nice haul.
Moncada is the headliner, obviously, and it's easy to see how this ends up being a big win for his Fantasy value. Moncada was groomed as a second baseman in Boston, before sliding over to third as he made his ascension to the majors. He was, of course, blocked at second by Dustin Pedroia and eventually Mookie Betts, and there wasn't room for him to transition to a corner outfield spot in Boston.
That won't be as much of an issue in Chicago, though right now he's blocked at third by Todd Frazier. Still, whether it's at second, third or in the outfield, the White Sox have a much clearer path to playing time for Moncada, both in the short term and the long term. The only thing stopping Moncada from getting an everyday role at this point is his own readiness.
That isn't to say Moncada isn't ready, although he did strike out in 12 of his 20 trips to the plate during a September cup of coffee last season. That was a disappointing showing, for sure, but we're also talking about a 21-year-old without a guaranteed role, who was trying to juggle learning a new position while helping in a playoff race, so extenuating circumstances are surely at play there. Especially because this was the first time we've seen Moncada struggle since making his debut stateside following a record signing bonus.
Moncada put together an .817 OPS as a 20-year-old in Class A in 2015, after taking an entire season off from baseball. After knocking off the rust, he showed us exactly what makes him the top prospect in baseball in 2016, as he reached Double-A and dominated at each level he appeared in. He hit .307 with a .427 on-base percentage in High-A Salem, and then started turning some of his raw power into in-game results at Double-A, clubbing 11 home runs and sporting a .254 Isolated slugging percentage in 45 games.
Moncada profiles as a real five-category contributor at some point down the road, with the speed and power to be an elite player across the board. He has some swing-and-miss to his game -- 124 strikeouts in 106 games last season -- but is still a career .287 hitter in the minors thanks to his ability to put a sting on the ball and sustain a high average on balls in play. His 75 steals per-150 games is an elite rate, so even if contact issues crop up and his power doesn't quite translate immediately, Moncada will be a Fantasy starter as soon as he has an everyday job.
That is really just going to depend on how aggressive the White Sox want to be. He's seen the majors now, but still has less than 250 plate appearances above High-A, so they may want to get him some seasoning in the minors before calling him up. Either way, Moncada seems like a good bet to end up on the South Side of Chicago by June of next season. He is the top pick in prospect-only drafts, is an early-round option in Dynasty drafts, and should be taken in the later rounds of all re-draft leagues on upside alone, even if he doesn't break camp with the team.
The rest of the prospects in this deal are quite a bit further away, though the White Sox may have increased their chances for a Southern league championship for next season because Kopech, Luis Basabe, and Victor Diaz could all end up at Double-A Birmingham at some point.
Kopech is the name to know here, and he'll be drafted in the first few rounds of prospect-only leagues this season as well, coming off a season in which he struck out 82 batters in 52 innings at High-A Salem. He has lights out stuff, and could be the next Noah Syndergaard, but he also carries with him all the risk of any fireballer with iffy command in his early 20's does. Kopech's potential range of outcomes stretches from a true No. 1 starter to a first-division closer to a total flameout who never even sniffs the majors, either due to injury or wildness. Still, this kind of strikeout stuff always opens eyes, and he'll be worth a look in Dynasty drafts as well.
Victor Diaz and Luis Basabe could be something someday, but they don't appear to be much right now. Basabe just finished up his age-19 season, where he had 12 homers and 25 steals in 105 games at Greenville, a nice breakout season for the outfielder. Still, he strikes out quite a bit, and seems pretty raw at this point, making him a nice high-upside flier for the White Sox, but a real long shot to contribute in Fantasy in the next few years.
Diaz struck out 63 batters in 60 1/3 innings at Class A Greenville last season, and sports a big fastball, all of which are nice things to see from a young pitcher. However, he's just a reliever, so his upside is as a ninth-inning guy, and he's considered to be pretty far away at this point. That's not exactly the type of prospect profile Fantasy owners need to care about.