Would the Chicago White Sox Ever Consider Trading Chris Sale?

Matthew Smith@@MatthewSmithBRCorrespondent IIIJanuary 13, 2013

At the age of 23, Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale has developed into the ace of the pitching staff. Would the White Sox ever consider trading Sale, though?

Of course, they could consider trading Sale, but that is too easy.

Let’s say general manager Rick Hahn receives a call for Sale. He should politely ask if the other GM has had his breakfast yet, or if his blood sugar is low, because the answer is no.

Sale is simply a guy you don’t let go of right now—for any reason.

Now, there are those who think that if the White Sox were offered a package that is too good to be true—say Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt from the Texas Rangers—then Hahn should take it to secure the team’s future.

Their argument is that only short-sighted Sox fans would place more value in the present than on the future.

I must need glasses, because I can’t see it.

Sale is the best pitcher the White Sox have and Hahn has built the 2013 team around pitching.

Yes, this is a win-now mentality. That is the way it should be. Trading Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza or Alexei Ramirez is one thing—trading Sale is entirely different.

To be fair, there are large question marks surrounding the lanky lefty that lend credence to the idea that now is the time to deal.

For starters, the difference between Sale’s performance in the first and second half last season is alarming. His ERA ballooned from 2.19 prior to the All-Star break to 4.03 after, and his WHIP went from 0.955 to 1.343.

Additionally, during the final 14 games he started, Sale gave up 15 more earned runs—while also allowing an additional nine long balls—than he had in his first 15 non-relief appearances. The drop off in production was obvious, even to the outside observer.

The biggest concerns, though, have to be his unusual delivery, the dip in velocity last season and his reliance on the slider. Look no further than the fantastic piece HarballTimes.com did last May on the physiology of Sale’s pitching style.

So, the concerns about Sale’s longevity are legitimate. But, until an injury occurs, those fears are strictly conjecture.

Randy Johnson’s delivery, for example, was as unique as it was effective, and he ended up having a long and illustrious career. (And no, it is not too early to begin the comparisons between Sale and Johnson.)

The White Sox are well aware that Sale has limitations. As such, they utilized a well-conceived plan last season to protect the young pitcher.

Manger Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper gave Sale extended rest multiple times and pulled him early on more than one occasion last season. Expect a similar course of action to occur this year, which will pay dividends once again.

The White Sox have the talent right now. They don’t need career years from everyone to win the AL Central—they need everyone to perform to their capabilities.

Getting rid of Sale so that the team can be competitive in two or three years is a defeatist attitude.

If he gets hurt, so be it. If the White Sox turn down an offer for Profar and Olt, and Sale blows his arm out during his first start, so be it.

Who’s to say that even the best package of prospects will pan out? There are no guarantees in baseball. What the White Sox have right now is a Cy-Young-caliber All-Star who is not a free agent until 2017.

Hahn has lightening in a bottle.

Sale is simply a guy you don’t let go of right now—for any reason.


*All statistics are courtesy of BaseballReference.com