It was reported this afternoon that the Chicago White Sox have agreed to a deal that will send SP Chris Sale to Boston. In return, the Red Sox will send 2B/3B Yoan Moncada, SP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Basabe, and RHP Victor Diaz to the south side of Chicago. This blockbuster deal was built rapidly throughout Tuesday morning, and finally came to a head with one tweet from Fox’s Ken Rosenthal.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2016
Sale has been thrown out on the market a lot over the last few seasons. Most recently, there were big discussions involving him during last year’s trade deadline. He is a five time all-star in his seven year career and has been top six in the Cy Young voting every year since 2012. His talent level will put him at the top of Red Sox rotation including David Price and Rick Porcello that could contend with the best in baseball this year.
In his career, Sale has recorded a 3.00 ERA and has been in the top 10 in strikeouts every year, consistently near 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Most recently, in 2016, Sale threw out a 3.34 ERA with a 1.037 WHIP, the second-lowest of his career.
Yoan Moncada is the number one prospect in all of baseball. He was brought into the Red Sox organization in 2015 when the Red Sox gave him a $31.5 million signing bonus. His 2016 saw a fast rise. He began in Salem with the single-A affiliates, and by the the end of the year, he was playing with the Boston Red Sox. In his two seasons in the minors, he hit .287, with a .395 OBP including 23 HR, 100 RBI, and 94 SB. The MLB brought some concerns for Moncada. He hit .211 with a .250 OBP, and he struck out in 12 of his 20 PA.
Obviously, Moncada is extremely talented. He has been considered to be a five-tool player. The negatives were in such a small sample size that they can certainly be fixed. He has an extremely high-ceiling. He will likely spend some time in the minors this season, before coming up to contend for a starting spot with the likes of Brett Lawrie at 2B.
The loss of Moncada (and Travis Shaw traded to Milwaukee earlier this morning) means the Red Sox will have to rely on Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt at 3B. That is, atleast until Rafael Devers is ready to play at the MLB level.
Michael Kopech has been known in Boston for the wrong reason. His biggest claim to fame last season was getting into an altercation with a teammate that resulted in Kopech breaking his hand. There is clearly a lot of growing up left to do, but his offseason reports have been interesting. The fifth prospect in the Red Sox farm system was selected in the first-round of the 2014 June Amateur Draft. In his three seasons in the minors, Kopech has recorded a 2.61 ERA with a 1.203 WHIP. Last season, he lit up the Carolina League with the Salem Red Sox, averaging 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Even without Sale, the White Sox still have a solid rotation featuring Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, James Shields, and Miguel Gonzalez. For that reason, I see Kopech continuing to harness his skills down in the minors, and depending on how the team looks, he may get a crack at the roster in September.
Luis Alexander Basabe is the eight prospect in the Red Sox farm system. Basabe was signed as a free agent in 2012, and the now 20 year old has some minor league experience under his belt. In his four minor league seasons, he has batted .253 with a .353 OBP. The power hasn’t developed, as he only has 21 HRs, however, he does have the speed to contend with potential 20 SB seasons. In his limited time with the Salem Red Sox last season, Basabe batted .364 with a .391 OBP. He could be in the long-term plans for the White Sox, but in Boston, he was completely blocked.
FUN FACT: Luis Alexander Basabe has a twin brother named Luis Alejandro Basabe who is also in the Red Sox organization.
The final piece in this deal was RHP Victor Diaz. Diaz was the 28th ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization but was probably right at the cusp of being in the top-30 before the Tyler Thornburg deal this morning. The 22-year old was signed as international free agent in December of 2014. Last season with Salem, he posted a 3.88 ERA with a 1.490 WHIP and 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Diaz is a tall RHP standing at 6’3″ who has really only come out of the bullpen. His fastball sits in the mid-high 90s, often hitting the triple digits, and his splitter and slider could become a big factor if he learns to harness the movement.
The Red Sox are clearly making a push towards winning now, while still being able to control guys like Sale for three seasons. They got one of the best pitchers in the league without having to trade a single MLB player. Although I liked Moncada and Kopech as prospects, I understand that you are better off going with the proven MLB talent. I believe that if they are going all in, which it appears like they are, they might as well go out and get Edwin Encarnacion today.
The White Sox still have the talent to try and compete in the AL Central, but the road is clearly tougher than before. I guess it all depends on if Moncada plays in the MLB this season, and how he looks at the dish. They wasted the prime years of one of the best pitchers in the last fifty years of the White Sox.