The MLB offseason is well upon us and as we enter the December winter meetings, where most of the big moves are made, there are plenty of burning questions that will keep the hot stove going strong. Among them, the never ending trade rumors surrounding White Sox ace Chris Sale.
For months, Sale's name has been all over the place in trade rumors, and sure enough, he continues to be more than ever here in the offseason. The White Sox have all the leverage right now, as Sale is a top of the rotation starter on a very team friendly long-term contract. His dominant track record(74-50, 3.00 ERA, 1,110 IP, 1,244 K, 260 BB, 3.06 FIP) gives him immense trade value. With that said, the White Sox obviously have a very high asking price on him. And sure enough, Sox GM Rick Hahn wants several high end blue chip prospects in return and will ask for nothing less.
As for trade rumors, so far we've heard of interest from the Red Sox, Braves, and Nationals this offseason and plenty of others that could still come calling. Many have speculated on where Sale could go and what teams could give up for him(including myself who speculated about Sale going to the Dodgers, that didn't work out to well...) but when it comes down to it, we really don't know who will give up, or will want to give up, the prospects Chicago is asking for in return for their ace.
There's a very real chance too, that we may not see Sale traded at all this offseason, as Chicago controls him for the 2017 season($12MM) plus 2018($12.5MM) and 2019($15MM) via club options that are no brainers to be exercised.
Another contributing factor that could keep Sale in Chicago is that Hahn and the rest of the front office still aren't sure what to expect this offseason. They are currently torn between rebuild and retool. Trading Sale would be an obvious signal of rebuild, then again they could trade Sale to fill other holes on the roster, but then they would lose their top starter which doesn't bode well for the team if they want to compete next year.
It all comes down to the decision of the front office. Do they want to hang on to Chris Sale and try to compete again next year, or do they want to start rebuilding and deal Sale? Regardless, they have the time to wait on trading Sale, unlike other players that are trade candidates that could soon wind up in free agency(Todd Frazier) or guys who they need to capitalize on current higher value(Jose Abreu).