It appears that the White Sox this offseason will finally embrace the overdue rebuilding process and part ways with at least some of their veteran talent in trades. Foremost among those veterans is of course ace Chris Sale.
Sale has been one of the very best pitchers in baseball for, oh, pretty much his entire career. Over that career, he has pitched to a 3.00 ERA (135 ERA+) with a 4.78 K/BB ratio, which is tops among active pitchers. Sale's high-effort delivery has long caused concerns, but the reality is that he has averaged 30 starts per season over the past half decade. There's also the matter of his contract. He's under contract for $12 million for 2017, and he's controllable via options in 2018 and 2019 for $12.5 million and $13.5 million. Obviously, those are well below market rates for a player like Sale.
It follows, then, that this offseason will occasion a healthy market for the 27-year-old left-hander. On that front, the whispers of interested teams are already rolling in. For instance ...
The Nationals are of course squarely in contending mode right now, and the uncertainty surrounding Stephen Strasburg's arm health may have them in the market for suitable co-ace alongside NL Cy Young contender Max Scherzer. You would figure that Nats top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito would have to be part of any deal involving Sale.
As well, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports reports that the Braves may also be interested in swinging a deal for Sale. The Braves are loaded with young talent as they emerge from a complete organizational teardown. As well, they've already signed R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon this offseason, so they've made fortifying the rotation a priority.
That's surely not an exhaustive list. Leading up to last season's non-waiver trade deadline, the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and Rangers were linked to Sale, so it's of course possible that some or all of those teams retain some level of interest. The reality is that if you're a contending team or even a team with faint designs on contention, then you could use a front-line arm like Sale. Given the thin crop of free-agent starting pitchers available, Sale should be in especially high demand.