Trade Review: Chris Sale, CHW & BOS

Yoan Moncada, the key piece of the Chris Sale trade

At the 2016 Winter Meetings, the topic of a potential Chris Sale trade was prominent throughout the week. Eventually the Red Sox pounced, prying super star pitcher, Chris Sale, from the rebuilding White Sox. This was the first domino to fall in Chicago’s rebuild which included the White Sox dealing Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, and David Robertson. The Sale trade got the White Sox the biggest return, landing them four pieces in total.

The Deal: December 6th, 2016

Red Sox Receive: Chris Sale (SP)

White Sox Receive: Yoan Moncada (2B/3B), Michael Kopech (SP), Luis Alexander Basabe (OF), and Victor Diaz (SP)

General Overview: After multiple unpleasant incidents between Chris Sale and the White Sox organization, many expected Sale to be dealt over the offseason. On his way to the Red Sox, Sale joined a rotation already featuring the likes of David Price, Rick Porcello, and Drew Pomeranz. Joining a winning organization was something Sale greatly desired, so all three parties were happy with the deal. The Red Sox got the ace they desperatly needed, while the White Sox got two top tier prospects and two lower end guys who they felt could step up as well.

Red Sox Overview: No matter how well any of the players the Red Sox gave up do, it is hard to argue that they will be more valuable than Chris Sale was for them. Sale was not the only star player on the team in 2018, but he was one of the main reasons they made it to the World Series. Though doing poorly in his World Series start, without Sale, it is unlikely that the Red Sox would have even made it as far. Giving up two top tier prospects is tough, but it is hard to compare that to a World Series victory. Unfortunately for Boston, Sale’s 2019 season has been about as disastrous as possible, starting the season with an ERA over 6.00.

White Sox Overview: In the return for Sale, the White Sox got a massive haul of young talent. Just after reaching the majors, Yoan Moncada was MLB Pipeline’s #1 overall prospect in all of baseball. After his arrival, Moncada starred in Triple-A Charlotte for the first half of 2017 until his promotion to Chicago. Things did not go great for Moncada as his batting average and strikeout rate both worsened after the jump to the majors. In 2018, Moncada played the entire season at the MLB level, showing his 5-tool abilities, but again struggled with his contact. So far in 2019, Moncada has been excellent, looking like a true #1 overall prospect. His strikeouts have fallen drastically, while his HRs and AVG are both well above his previous season’s. It is a bit to early to tell for sure, but it appears as if Moncada was well worth being the centerpiece for Chris Sale. If he keeps performing at this rate, the Red Sox will soon (if not already) regret parting with him

Michael Kopech, another top prospect at the time, was dealt as a 2nd headliner to pair with Moncada. His combination of a high 90s (up to 100mph) fastball and a devastating slider really caught the eye of White Sox scouts. After doing well in Double-A (2017) and Triple-A (2017/2018), Kopech finally got a taste of the majors at the back end of the 2018 season. After a dominating first three starts, Kopech got absolutely shelled in his 4th. A day later, it was discovered Kopech needed Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for 2018 as well as 2019. He is expected to be fully healthy by 2020, and will be a crucial part of Chicago’s rotation then.

Though not as highly rated at the time, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, may turn out to be the 3rd very good player the White Sox got. A switch hitting outfielder, Basabe was traded away from his twin brother, Luis Alejando Basabe, who also played in the Red Sox organization. Though both were viewed as similar level players, Luis Alexander took off upon his arrival in the White Sox organization, and has proved himself to be an important member of their rebuild.

Victor Diaz, the 4th and final piece of the deal has not been much of a factor at all. After the trade, Diaz pitched 12 inning of relief between Class-A and Class A-Advanced, combining for a disgustingly bad 12 walks, and a 14.25 ERA. Diaz has been sidelined since 2017 due to injuries, so he is hoping to bounce back later this year. It’s always hard to tell for sure, but it appears that Diaz will be a pretty irrelevant part of this deal, essentially making it a 3:1 deal.

Chris Sale pitching vs Orioles (9/20/17)

Player Grades:

Chris Sale: A

Yoan Moncada: A-

Michael Kopech: A-

Luis Alexander Basabe: B-

Victor Diaz: D

Winner: Chicago White Sox

Prospect Profile: Wander Samuel Franco, TB

Wander Franco, TB

Wander Franco, the Tampa Bay Rays top prospect, is the next player in the Prospect Profile spotlight. Franco came in at #5 overall in my Early Season Prospect Rankings, and he is only getting better. Coming into the 2019 season at 18, Franco is one of the youngest players in all of Minor League Baseball.

Height:5’10″ Weight: 190 lbs. Age: 18

Position: SS Bats/Throws: S/R ETA: Early 2021

Overview: The future is looking very bright for the Tampa Bay Rays. With one of the best records in the MLB so far, and one of the best farm systems, they should also be expecting young pitchers Brent Honeywell, Anthony Banda and Jose De Leon to all return from Tommy John surgery this season. Wander Samuel Franco is at the top of Tampa’s prospect rankings, yet he is only 18 years old. Franco is at the top of a stacked system that contains players like Honeywell, Brendan McKay, Matthew Liberatore, Jesus Sanchez, and Shane McClanahan. Factor in current major league Rays like Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow, the Rays have the best organizational depth in young, high-potential talent. I would expect the Rays to be in contention for the next 6-7 years at least, as they have the makings of a dynasty.

Signed in 2017 for just about four million dollars, Franco has not disappointed in his first profesional seasons, proving worthy of the large signing bonus. The switch hitting shortstop is one of the highest rated prospects by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. Coming in at such a young age (18) and already at Class A, Franco has the potential to be a complete superstar for the Rays. One of his most impressive stats is his strikeout rate, striking out only 9% of the time. Hitting well over .300 in both Rookie League (2018) and Class-A (2019), expect Franco to fly through Tampa’s system. Barring injuries, Franco will surely reach A-Advanced, and I don’t find it hard to believe that he’ll finish 2019 in Double-A Montgomery.

Ceiling: Troy Tulowitski – Currently, Tulowitski isn’t the star he used to be, so many people may have forgotten how dominant he used to be. He had a great bat, as well as a very good glove as well. During his career, Tulowitski had eight All-Star worthy seasons, and I could see Franco producing similarly to him. Franco has the tools to hit close to 30 HRs a season, while hovering around a .300 BA.

Projection: Gleyber Torres – One of the rising stars, Torres could be a very accurate comparison for Wander Franco. While its too early to tell for sure, Franco appears to be a pretty solid defender, who is an elite hitter both in terms of power and contact. Being a switch hitter is a plus as well, and he can produce from both sides of the plate, although he has more power from the left.

Floor: Willy Adames – One of the Rays former top prospects, shortstop Willy Adames was expected to be the Rays future shortstop as well as a franchise player. Adames has done pretty solid, but I’m sure they would have hoped for more. Francos expectations will be higher, so I view Adames as a worst case for Franco. If Adames is good enough to stay long term, he may have to relocate positions to make room for Franco.

Player Grades: Contact: A Power: B+ Speed: A- Fielding: B Arm: B- Potential: A+ Overall: A