Is it right time for Braves to deal assets — for Chris Sale, perhaps?

Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has been an All-Star in his first five seasons as a starter. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has been an All-Star in his first five seasons as a starter. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Taking a mid-November break from football here to ask a question about the Braves’ winter makeover in general and their starting rotation in particular: Is it time for a big trade?

If there’s one certainty about the John Hart/John Coppolella regime over the past two years, it’s that the two have not been shy about making trades. Almost all significant deals have involved dealing veteran players who made too much money or were on the verge of free agency  for young players and/or prospects. (Hector Olivera was an exception — twice. He was acquired from Los Angeles for two young players, blew up in a bad way, then was shipped to San Diego for Matt Kemp. Kemp made more money than Olivera and was signed for three more years but at least he blew up in a good way.

Back to the trade thing: The Braves recently added an AARP element to their starting rotation by adding 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (the deal hasn’t been announced yet) and 42-year-old R.A. Dickey to one-year contracts. The Braves’ hope is that adding the two oldtimers will spackle enough cracks in the short term in the rotation, which last season ranked among baseball’s worst.

Rumors circulated over the past two weeks that the Braves have inquired about Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer. (It wouldn’t be an official baseball winter unless the Rays were looking to deal a good young player for salary reasons.) But Archer is right-handed and, if you hadn’t noticed, every candidate for the Braves’ starting rotation also is right-handed: incumbents Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz; newcomers Colon and Dickey; returning candidates Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Williams Perez (assumes health) and Tyrell Jenkins; late-season addition Josh Collmenter.

Enter: Chris Sale. The Chicago White Sox starter is 27 years old, an All-Star five straight seasons and left-handed. The Sox have resisted opportunities to deal Sale in the past but multiple reports suggest they may be serious this time. The problem: Several teams want him, including the Washington  Nationals.

Long time baseball writer Jon Heyman, now of multiple blogs and the MLB Network, reported via Twitter that the Braves have “strong interest in Sale” and have the assets to get a deal done.

There’s no doubt both aspects of Heyman’s report are true. Sale, who is signed for three more seasons, would significantly upgrade the Braves’ rotation and diminish the urgency of Colon and Dickey squeezing one more decent season out of their 40-year-old-plus arms, as well as settling the early career struggles of Wisler and Blair.

The question is: How badly do Hart and Coppolella want to get a deal done? They’ve been resistant to dealing significant prospects in the past.

But if there’s a deal to be made, this is a good time to do it. Sale is 74-50 with a 3.00 ERA in seven seasons in Chicago, including 1,244 strikeouts in 1,100 innings. He has been an All-Star in the last five years and finished in the top six in American League Cy Young Award voting four times.

He led the majors with six complete games last season. The Braves’ entire pitching staff had one. (Easy trivia: Teheran.)

Determining what it would take to get Sale is difficult because there may be so many teams in the bidding. But the Braves have to ask themselves how badly they want to win in the first couple of seasons in their new stadium. The starting rotation, as currently constructed, offers few guarantees. The fact their rotation lacks a lefthander also hurts.

Sale would fix both problems.

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30 comments
58Supersports
58Supersports

Good point Jeff... Braves have 24 pitchers on 40 man roster but only 3 are lefties.  Need more than one lefty. Also believe Coppy/Hart should go after a young catcher that is blocked. Indians, Rockies, Philly and Rays have catchers to trade. Would love to get Murphy...the last catcher we had named Murphy was a MVP...Dale Murphy #3

Katzenjammer
Katzenjammer

Nawww. Let's don't make mega deals for prima donna pitchers. Keep plugging away with the young guys and go find some hitters.

TideDawg
TideDawg

The Braves don't need to add an "attitude" to the team. This guy will not fit in with a young team. Somebody needs to lift Sale's butt off the ground with a boot and tell him to shut up and do his job.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Love his attitude he wants to win just like the Tide...Roll Tide!

jac200
jac200

i would love to have him.he showed a problem last year though once the white sox faded. he doesnt deal well with being on a losing team. braves are at least a year away from sniffing contention. he could get soured again, and that would make it a waste. 

Bogey
Bogey

Several teams are bidding for Sale, and that competition only drives up the prospect-package costs. We accumulated all those prospects for two reasons: develop them and/or use as trade capital.

With that said, I would continue to make other GM's believe we are going hard after Sale, but actually offer a lesser package for Jose Quintana ( also a lefty, less expensive, under contractual control longer, and in many ways a better long term fit). Grab Q before other teams give up on/lose out on Sale.

Finally, spend some of that $ Coppy talks about and bring in Justin Turner for 3B on 4-5 yr deal. At that point, Maitan will be ready.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Bogey I doubt the Braves will invest $18 to $20 Million a year on Turner. He is likely to get 4yrs $70 to $80 Million based on his future WAR #. It is higher than the other big dollar FA Cespedes.

BiCurious_Barack
BiCurious_Barack

Chris Sale is MLB's new version of Carlos Zambrano.


He is a headcase who acts like a Hillary Clinton post-election "supporter" whenever he doesn't get his way.     (Google:   Chris Sales sent home by Chicago White Sox after he cuts up & destroys team uniforms, July 2016)


"The Braves Way"  doesn't need that type of nutter in the clubhouse.



JerseyGil
JerseyGil

@BiCurious_Barack Agree Sale has some issue, Move that is Better is to bring up Newcomb and use him like a 6th men rotation, trade Markakis and albies or Peterson for Dozier and sign Trumbo (He can Play first To) also sign Turner and Frenchy.

Tom Dunne
Tom Dunne

@BiCurious_Barack Thank God someone was able to drag politics into this - I was afraid this baseball discussion would be about nothing but baseball.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@JerseyGil @BiCurious_Barack Why the rush to trade Markakis ? Twins will not just give Dozier away for Markakis and Peterson, they will want pitching.Trumbo will play first for the Braves ? He is a better prospect for being a DH in the AL.Turner will likely stay with the Dodgers or if he leaves he will want more years and cash than Coppy will want to offer.

mudstuffin
mudstuffin

  decision the braves make will be the wrong one.

GT71
GT71

I'm only sure of one thing - it's nice to have options.  Remember, not too far back this organization had little gas in any tank anywhere in the organization.  The Johns have done a pretty good job so far, so cut them a little slack, swallow hard and let them roll the dice in hand. Get Sale it you want him and don't look back.



ErnestB
ErnestB

What's the sense in accumulating assets if they are not used to improve the team?  Sale is a proven commodity along with being a #1 or 2 pitcher on a staff.  If he can be acquired without giving up our core, it should be done.  


Prospects are just that, prospects until they prove they can get the job done at the show.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Hate to lose Mallex, but he's expendable because of Ender. He's the second best CF on the team. Markakis is probably too old to be part of that type of trade. Blair is still a major question mark, even though he is very early in his career. Jace Peterson is expendable due to Albies progress.

Maybe Blair, Peterson, Mallex and a young arm not of the same caliber as Blair is supposed to be would be enough. Much more than that might make it too expensive..

Mike Anthony
Mike Anthony

It won't be cheap but I would do it. It'd be something like Mallex, Demeritte, Wisler, and Newcomb.

TideDawg
TideDawg

I think it's a bad deal. Why would the Braves trade for a top of the line pitcher when they don't have a lineup that can support him. 2017 is not going to be much better than 2016. I doubt if they can finish at .500. Wait until 2018 when some of the talent matures. The farm arms will gain value and there should be some real quality pitchers available to obtain in a trade. Don't get in a hurry to spend the bankroll of talent that was infused into the farm system. Once that talent is traded away it's a "start all over" deal for the Braves. The Braves must be trying to change from the youngest team to the oldest team. I'm not in favor of spending a fortune for talent that may last one year....or may already be at the end of their career.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TideDawg Other than pitching prospects ,who exactly are the prospects that are going to be added to the roster in 2018? Albies if healthy should make the Braves roster this year. The starting 8 on the field won 20 of their last 30 games in 2016.And the team basically only had two starting pitchers in the rotation most of the second half that could get beyond 5 innings a start (Teheran and Foltynewicz.

If the Braves could add a number 1 starter like Sale it would deepen the rotation.And make the Braves at least competitive for a wildcard in 2017.

As far as depleting Prospects in the system ,at last count the Braves have at least 10 starting pitchers on the farm that are high draft picks #1 or sandwich picks. Not including Blair , Jenkins or Wisler. Package some of them for Sale and make the trade. A #1 starter in your rotation is better than 2 or 3 prospects in the minors.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Buschleaguer @TideDawg Actually, I was referring to the matured talent being worth more and more appealing for trading. Right now the Braves don't know which of those raw talent kids might develop into a major talent. One more year might give them a clearer picture. I say fold your cards and wait for a better opportunity to build a great roster. They have money and raw talent... don't spend it all trying to win a few extra games next year. 

TheFlowerChild
TheFlowerChild

The Braves handled Sale pretty easily when they faced him last season, if I remember correctly.

joshdky
joshdky

BUSCHLEAGUER, YOUR CRAZY. LOL. NOBODY WANTS Shields. And while I do think the Sox will ask for Foltynewicz. But I don't think they will also part with Mallex and Blair. I am not sure exactly what the Sox need. But I think the Sox want to get rid of Sale, and teams know that. So I think as long as they get Foltynewicz and a couple good prospects they will probably make a deal. But I might be wrong. As a Braves fan I love Sale and hope the Braves trade for him

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@joshdky The addition of Shields is a salary dump for the Sox .Shields is owed $42 million for the next 2 years with San Diego on the hook for $20 million. The Braves will agree to taking on the money to get the Sox to include their 2016 first round pick Collins a left hand batting Catcher out of the University of Miami. 

Sale is the prize in the 2017 pitching market and having him at the top of the Braves rotation for at least the 2017 and 2018 seasons is worth the high price. The Braves could then possibly flip him in 2019 when some of the highly rated pitching prospects may finally be ready. Shields could fill a spot as the fifth starter in 2017, heck he could not be any worse than what the Braves ran out to the mound in 2016.The Braves can dump Shields and the portion of his contract $22 million anytime during this season or next. Collins could be the LH hitting catcher of the future the braves have been searching for.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@joshdky The Braves will be competing with the Nationals , Yankees and Red Sox for Sale ,so the price will be high. Agreeing to take on Shields and the money the Sox owe him $22 Million may be the only way the White Sox will deal Sale.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Sale, Zack Collins (C) and James Shields to Braves for Mike Foltynewicz, Mallex Smith, Mike Soroka, Aaron Blair and Lucas Sims.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Baseball season is over?....what about the CFB committee rankings tonight?...good grief!

Jeremy Siranko
Jeremy Siranko

@TOJacket There are 8,320 google results for "CFB committee rankings."  You're free to click on any of those. Based on my college team's performance this season, I'm happy to read Braves updates. 

mgunter
mgunter

I noticed you didn't say anything about what an idiot he is off th field. He's a clubhouse disaster waiting to happen.

joshdky
joshdky

@mgunter the same thing was said of AJ Persinski. I like someone with some fire, it can sometimes boost the players around them.