By now, the story; nay, legend; of Chris Sale hacking all of his team’s throwback jerseys to pieces with a knife is well known. It’s the kind of narrative that can really inspire people: Don’t like something about your job? Take some action; subsequent questions regarding your mental state and a five-game suspension be damned!
From the perspective of the White Sox front office, however, this is not only bad because of what it is, but also because of what it could mean. Teams interested in acquiring Sale may be less inclined to do so after getting the impression that he might be slightly unhinged. Granted, he’s one of the best in the game, so there still exists plenty of chance that a team interested in really boosting their rotation will quietly ignore the recent drama and add him to the payroll anyway. But, if it came down to trading for Sale or another pitcher who has never snapped about his a uniform, perhaps a team would think twice.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn understands this, and wants you and any interested parties to know that he understands this. But don’t worry, because despite what you’ve heard, everything’s fine.
“I want to get out front and be clear to all of you: The actions or behaviors of the last 24 hours does not change in any aspect, any respect, our belief that Chris Sale can help this club win a championship, and win multiple championships. It does not move the needle one iota in terms of his value to this club, his value to any other club that may be interested in his services, or the likelihood of him being moved or kept whatsoever. None of that stuff is impacted at all by these events.”
I don’t know if one White Sox executive can really speak for the updated interest level in all of Sale’s potential suitors, but Hahn certainly sounds confident. Sale’s relationship with the team’s higher-ups was already salty from earlier in the season, when he went after team vice president Ken Williams during the saga involving Sale’s former White Sox teammate Adam LaRoche that eventually led to LaRoche’s retirement.
But the White Sox sound like they want everyone to just forget about this and for things to go back to the way they were. However, as Ken Rosenthal writes, people reacting is inevitable (a former teammate of Sale’s apparently plans to reach out to him and tell him to “chill”). Sale will already miss one start due to his five-game suspension, and his actions seem like they would be exactly the kind of thing for which the Uniform Player Contract is in place. Nothing being “impacted at all by these events” sounds like a bit of a stretch, considering it’s all anyone is talking about.
Hahn has given the indication that, in the throes of another disappointing season of Chicago’s south side, he’d be willing to move players, but seemingly not those considered central to the White Sox’ future; guys like David Robertson, Zach Duke, and Melky Cabrera. But obviously, you can’t blame other teams hunting for starting pitching when they look past all that to the more intriguing assets like Chris Sale, with his 3.18 ERA, 129 SO, and only 29 BB in 19 starts and 133.1 IP this season.
The White Sox could involve more teams into the trade talks in the off-season anyway, so perhaps waiting a while to move Sale is the best thing to do. In the mean time, should someone come forth with an offer, Chicago wants the farm for its ace, clubhouse incidents or no.
Is Sale a player who wants out? Maybe. But he does not control the process; the White Sox do. And the team, according to multiple reports, wants five top young players for its ace left-hander, who started the All-Star Game and will earn $38 million between 2017 and '19 if his two club options are exercised — a bargain rate if ever there was one.