Editor's Note: Chris Sale was traded about ten minutes after this story was posted for Yoan Moncada and other Red Sox prospects.
With the Winter Meetings underway, one themed has emerged: teams wanting Chris Sale still won't meet the White Sox demand of a blue chip prospect/young major leaguer along the lines of Alex Bregman, Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, Julio Urias, Yoan Moncada or Andrew Benintendi.
*Deals made prior to 2011 will use Baseball-America as a reference for prospect rankings, after 2011 will use MLB Pipeline.
Deals for the Sox to draw on for Chris Sale
Santana, one year before hitting free agency, was dealt when he was 28 to the New York Mets. In return the Twins acquired Carlos Gomez (#3 Mets prospect), Philip Humber (#7 Mets prospect), Deolis Guerra (#2 Mets prospect) and Kevin Mulvey (#4 Mets prospect). Guerra was the #35 prospect in baseball, Gomez the #52, while Mulvey and Humber were unranked.
When comparing this to Sale, the Sox asking price may seem absurd until contracts come into play. Santana was on the last year of his deal and the Mets had to give him a six-year, $137.5 million contract extension. The Mets really traded for the right to extend Santana with the largest pitching contract of all time. If Sale were on the open market, he could reasonably land between Zack Greinke's six-year, $206.5 million deal with the D-Backs and Clayton Kershaw's seven-year, $215 million contract extension with the Dodgers.
As it stands, Chris Sale will make $10 million less than Rich Hill over the next three years, in the middle of his prime.
Now that we've established that a Chris Sale needs to account for the financial savings and that it needs to include a number of a team's top prospects, there's three other deals to look at.
After Dan Haren's first All-Star season in Oakland, he was traded to the Diamondbacks for Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, Chris Carter, and Aaron Cunningham. Gonzalez and Anderson were the #22 and #36 prospects in baseball respectively and the deal still needed to be supplemented with plenty of trimmings. This deal is establishing that if an "untouchable" like Trea Turner isn't coming back, a deal needs to have a mountain of prospects.
Finally, let's look at what a half-season of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller brought the Yankees. Chapman netted the Yankees the current #17 prospect Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney, who was #34 going into the year before falling out of the MLB Top 100. Miller brought back the current #15 prospect Clint Frazier and #78 Justus Sheffield.
Combined with the infamous Shelby Miller trade, the Drew Pomeranz trade for current #13 Anderson Espinoza, Chapman and Miller deals establish that premium pitching demands premium prospects. It doesn't get much more premium than Chris Sale, which is why the Sox are demanding sky-high value for the lefty.
With the hot new rumor being built around the Nationals sending a package headlined by Lucas Giolito (#3 MLB) and Victor Robles (#10 MLB), the Sox should be pretty comfortable asking for Reynaldo Lopez (#37 MLB), Erik Fedde (#75 MLB) and three more prospects being thrown in if Turner is off limits. If the Red Sox and Nationals get into a bidding war, then you may see a smaller package built around Turner, but one that would still make the Nats hesitate before pulling the trigger.
Deal for the Sox to draw on for Jose Quintana
As I (and everyone else) have written a number of times, All-Star Jose Quintana is the most underrated pitcher (if not player overall) in baseball. Over the past five seasons, the lefty has finished #12 in fWAR, just behind Cole Hamels.
And when Hamels was traded in 2014, he was 31 and in the middle of a monstrous contract. He netted the Phillies Nick Williams (#83 MLB), Jorge Alfaro (#30 MLB), Alec Asher (#14 TEX), Jerad Eickhoff (#20 TEX), Matt Harrison and Jake Thompson (#8 TEX).
When Quintana's youth, years of control and cheap contract are taken into account, the Sox could look at a slightly better version of the Cole Hamels trade as a jumping off point, in conjunction with the market value set by the Shelby Miller, Pomeranz, Chapman and Andrew Miller trades. The Sox won't get a Sale-like package for Quintana, but it shouldn't be far off in value. A team like the Yankees, now flush with prospects, could make a strong move for him.
Deal for the Sox to draw on for Adam Eaton
Adam Eaton might be the most underrated position player now, following a 2016 campaign that left him at 11th in fWAR amongst positon players.
Like Quintana, Eaton is entering his prime, he's cheap and under control for an extended period of time (in this case, five years). The Sox absolutely don't have to trade him so an offer would have to blow them away.
What type of offer? Think Mark Teixeira, who netted the Texas Rangers Beau Jones, Elvis Andrus (#65 MLB), Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison (#90 MLB) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (#36 MLB). It's worth noting that Feliz became #93 in MLB by the time the season ended and Andrus became #19.
At the time, Teixeira had a season and a half of control at age 27. Eaton is currently 28 years old, with significantly more time. A team in need of a lefty bat with good on-base percentage, speed, decent power and elite defense in right field with a cannon arm would pay a pretty penny - one that, like the Teixeira deal, would take four top 100 prospects.
Deal for the Sox to draw on for Nate Jones
Nate Jones, like Eaton and Quintana, is another unsung piece on the South Side (sensing a theme?). Putting up a 2.0 and 1.8 fWAR in 2013 and 2016 respectively (Jones previous two healthy seasons) and Jones is a top fifteen reliever in baseball. That's similar production to Ken Giles when he was traded to the Astros for Mark Appel (#70 MLB), Harold Arauz, Thomas Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer and Vince Velasquez (#86 MLB).
Appel and Velasquez are the key pieces here, two back-end of the Top 100 pieces. Any of the teams missing out on the closer sweepstakes of Mark Melancon, Chapman and Kenley Jansen might come knocking in need of Jones' service.
A possible partner could be the Dodgers, with the Sox targeting Willie Calhoun (#87 MLB) and Yusniel Diaz (#93 MLB). Granted, Giles was much younger than Jones at the time, so the Sox may try to swap in a player like Gavin Lux for Calhoun or Diaz.
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Filed under: Editorial