Chicago pays Sale price for makeover

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Oxon Hill, Mary­land

No sur­prise that Chris Sale got traded.

The real shocker was that the Bos­ton Red Sox swooped in to snag him.

The reload­ing Red Sox pulled off the big­gest deal yet at MLB’s win­ter meet­ings, ac­quir­ing the dom­i­nant ace from the Chicago White Sox on Tues­day for a hefty pack­age that will go a long way to­ward re­shap­ing Chicago.

“The abil­ity to get a Chris Sale doesn’t come along very of­ten,” said Dave Dom­browski, Bos­ton’s pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions.

Sale joins an al­ready tal­ented ro­ta­tion with the AL Eastcham­pion Red Sox, now pitch­ing along­side 2016 Cy Young Award win­ner Rick Por­cello, for­mer win­ner David Price and knuck­le­baller Steven Wright.

He leaves be­hind a rocky rep­u­ta­tion in Chicago, sus­pended by the team last sum­mer af­ter he flew into a rage and cut up retro uni­forms the club was sup­posed to wear.

The 27-year-old Sale has been an All-Star in each of the past five sea­sons, fin­ish­ing high in Cy Young Award vot­ing ev­ery time, but has never played in the post­sea­son.

Given his fi­nan­cial sta­tus, Sale “was con­trol­lable and pro­jected to be damn good go­ing for­ward, and it’s tough to give that up,” said White Sox GM Rick Hahn.

“At the same time, we have to be re­al­is­tic about where we are and the like­li­hood of, with this cur­rent group, get­ting to where we want to be.

“In the end, we had to make the tough de­ci­sion to let go of some­one as valu­able as Chris in or­der to pull back what we feel is a pre­mium pack­age that’s go­ing to help put us in a bet­ter po­si­tion over the long term.”

Drafted by Chicago in 2010, Sale be­came a starter in 2012 and quickly rock­eted to star­dom. But the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Sale and the White Sox be­came ex­tremely strained this year.

Chicago went 78-84 and hasn’t made the play­offs since 2008.

To land Sale, Bos­ton traded high-priced third base­man Yoan Mon­cada, con­sid­ered by many the top young tal­ent in base­ball, out­fielder Luis Basabe and pitch­ers Michael Kopech and Vic­tor Diaz.

Sale was a top trade tar­get across the ma­jors this off­sea­son, and Wash­ing­ton seemed to be the fa­vorite to land him this week.

“We put a lot of ef­fort into it and thought we made a good, valiant ef­fort ... but we fell short,” said Na­tion­als gen­eral man­ager Mike Rizzo.

“We reached as far as we were go­ing to reach in the trade,” he said, ad­ding he’d “been en­gaged with the White Sox for a cou­ple of weeks in­for­mally and then it ratch­eted up right be­fore the meet­ings.”

To New York Mets man­ager Terry Collins, it was a great deal — be­ing di­vi­sion ri­vals of the NL East cham­pion Nats.

“I re­ally thought for sure he was go­ing to end up in Wash­ing­ton. I re­ally did,” Collins said. “We dodged a bul­let.”

Dom­browski said he be­gan talk­ing to the White Sox in earnest on Fri­day.

A few hours ear­lier, Bos­ton got prime setup man Tyler Thorn­burg from Mil­wau­kee. Af­ter that deal was an­nounced, with­out tip­ping his hand, Dom­browski said, “We’re try­ing to win now, as you can see.”

Few knew then ex­actly how hard Bos­ton was try­ing.

“That’s a big one. That’s a block­buster. That was a wow,” said Yan­kees GM Brian Cash­man.

Sale was 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and 233 strike­outs this past sea­son — a year af­ter he led the ma­jors by fan­ning 274 bat­ters.

He also comes with a team­fa­vor­able con­tract that calls for a $12 mil­lion salary next year and in­cludes club op­tions of $12.5 mil­lion for 2018 and $15 mil­lion for 2019.

Bos­ton went 93-69, then got swept by Cleve­land in the AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries that fin­ished out the ca­reer of re­tir­ing slug­ger David Or­tiz.

Chris Sale

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