A passel of prospects for Chris Sale? The Braves won’t pay that price

FILE - In this Monday, July 18, 2016, file photo, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale throws to a Seattle Mariners batter during a baseball game in Seattle. Sale has been scratched from his start against the Detroit Tigers after he was involved in what the team says was a "non-physical clubhouse incident." The White Sox declined to describe the incident, but said it's "currently under further investigation by the club" and that Sale was sent home from the park. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Apparently he had no issue with this uniform. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The belief here is that the Atlanta Braves indeed have, as reports suggest, an interest in Chris Sale. Why would they not? He’s 27. He’s left-handed. He’s among the 10 best pitchers in baseball. He’s under team control for $36 million over the next three full seasons, dirt cheap for a No. 1 starter.

The Braves have seized — probably the wrong verb — a 4 1/2-game lead — probably the wrong noun — over dogged Minnesota as the worst team in the majors. (The two meet Tuesday and Wednesday at Target Field. Must-see TV!) If you’re this awful, you have to be creative to get good again. Landing a pitcher of Sale’s eminence and pairing him with Julio Teheran would give them one of the very best starting tandems in the business.

(And no, they wouldn’t trade Teheran for Sale. I believe John Coppolella when he says he’s not trading Teheran, who’s both younger and cheaper than Sale. The Pale Hose man may have won 14 games this season, but Teheran has had the better statistical year — lower ERA, lower WHIP, higher WAR value.)

The White Sox aren’t thought to be looking for established players in return. They’re seeking prospects, the number most reported being “at least five.” (I’ve heard it’s more like seven.) The Braves, whose farm system is regarded as the best in the business, are one of the few club that might have enough prospects to open the bidding, but why would they? It’s not as if they’re chasing a wild card; on the contrary, they’re closing in on next year’s No. 1 draft pick.

The only reason you pay that sort of price for any player — especially one who works one game of five — is if you’re desperate. (Like the wild-card-chasing Braves were in 2007 when they traded five prospects for Mark Teixeira. We saw how that worked out.) The Rangers and Dodgers and Red Sox, three teams that need pitching now and mightn’t make the playoffs if they don’t find it, fit the profile of Sale-buyers. The Braves do not.

A team that has gone from a bottom five farm system to No. 1 in the span of 20 months shouldn’t consider such a deal unless it could persuade the White Sox to take five/seven prospects without any of them being Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies or Ronald Acuna, and that would never happen. The ChiSox have scouts. They surely know what’s what.

Say you land Sale but lose the three position prospects listed above. Who’s going to drive in the run so Sale/Teheran can win 1-0? The Braves were last in the majors in scoring last season. They’re last again. They just played four games in the rarefied air of Coors Field and managed 12 runs, which is akin to being shut out four times at sea level.

If the Braves were to say, “We’ll give you two of our top five pitching prospects and anybody you want off our big-league roster except Teheran or Freddie Freeman,” I’d call that a deal worth doing. Trouble is, it wouldn’t be a deal worth doing if you’re the team selling Sale. (This not just in: The Braves’ big-league roster is terrible.) ChiSox scouts would surely have noted that, too.

I understand that the Braves would be intrigued by the possibility of getting a good and affordable pitcher — even if he is a bit nuts — but I can’t see anything close to a match between these parties. In sum, no Sale.

Reader Comments 0

12 comments
meza
meza

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mgunter
mgunter

This guy is a "head case" that I don't want any part of.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@mgunter True.  He'd probably cut and run before his contract is up.

SouthFultonCyclist
SouthFultonCyclist

Having a great farm system means so much more when the big league team is good too. Not the case for tge Braves, so I agree. Don't trade what few bats we have just so we can have another great pitcher lose games because of zero run support. By the way, I didn't know you felt so strongly about Ronald Acuna.

redweather
redweather

All I keep hearing about is the Braves' fantastic farm system. So when will this farm system produce some hitters? Or wait, is that what we are planning to do with those pitching prospects? Trade them for bats. This is beginning to sound like a Ponzi scheme, major league baseball style.


DawgNole
DawgNole

@redweather

Beginning to sound like a Ponzi scheme???

With ONE championship in half a century--NONE in the past two decades--that Ponzi scheme clearly began quite some time ago.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

He's a dingbat for sure. And the Braves need everyday players to can swing a bat and drive in runs.

DrTruth
DrTruth

While this is the last thing the Braves should be doing, it wouldn't surprise me if they did it.  They've been interested in Sale for years.  Similarly, they were interested in Olivera, but got outbid the first time.  Did that deter them?  No.  Hart/Coppy became consumed with obtaining Olivera, no matter the cost to prove that they're the Alphas in the league.  Of course we know how that's turned out so far.


Hart & Coppy live for "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" stuff like this.  The fact that Sale's clearly one of the best starters in the league, he's under control for 3 years and he's cheap is how they would justify it to fans.


The problem is the Braves don't have an excess of top prospects to use as trading currency.  The MLB team is basically a glorified minor league team.  If they "spend" 3, 4 or 5 top prospects for a single starting pitcher, then how do all the other holes get filled on the MLB team in the 3 years they have that pitcher?  When you have the budget for a Kia Soul, you don't go shopping for a Ferrari unless you're delusional.  Of course Coppy has previously and repeatedly met the definition of being delusional.  


This would be a huge mistake 2 years into a rebuild.  It makes about as much sense as signing Markakis for 4 yrs, $44 Mill at the start of a rebuild did.

USMC2841
USMC2841

Way to turn in an article, Mark.  At this point there will be several nice prospects being floated before the trade deadline.  None will be taken by the Braves and Liberty Media, with one of the lowest payrolls in MLB, will continue to push the "just you wait" mentality until the cows come home.  Cows are the only thing that will come home with this team's offensive prowess.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

The Braves are not trading for Sale.  Why would they?  They know the team is going to be bad again in 2017 and the novelty of the new stadium should keep the fan entertain until they are good again. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Kwajbraves

Until they're good again???

That's a mighty looooooooong time for a stadium to "keep the fan entertain."

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

This article was just about completely pointless. I guess this comment is too.