Ahhh, the offseason. My favorite time to write about the Cubs, to dream, and to comment on everything. Last offseason I dreamed about this free agent signing: Ben Zobrist: 3 years/$50 million. Not too far off on that one, huh? But I did also dream about this trade: Baez, Almora, Vogelbach, Hendricks for Chris Sale, mid-level prospect. Look at that now! Hendricks alone was better than Sale, Vogelbach netted us Montgomery, a valuable bullpen piece, and Baez was the Co-NLCS MVP. You can read that post HERE.
Chris Sale has one less year on his contract than last year, so how much has his value declined? Not at all. In fact, his valueit has probably increased. I do want another Starter in our rotation. A stud. Imagine a pitching staff where Lackey is the #5 starter. But with a Cy Young caliber top three, does this stud have to be a Chris Sale type? No, he just has to be better than Lackey, but right now, it’s more fun dreaming big.
It’s so weird going into the offseason knowing we don’t need to make a big splash. We don’t need a Chris Sale to finally win that World Series…we already won one! I actually find myself of dreaming about not trading players more than trading for them (cough, cough, Kyle Schwarber).
I don’t want to trade Baez or Schwarber at this point, but to get a Chris Sale, would it be possible without them? I don’t think so, but I’ll try. I’m probably veering into the unrealistic here without those pieces, but I’ll do my best.
The White Sox are not very good, they have holes everywhere, need help in their farm system, and Sale has not been fitting in well with the team. He’s their biggest chip to quick improvement and should be traded to someone this offseason. The Cardinals, Dodgers, and Nationals will all be targeting him too, and that’s scary.
At the moment, Ian Happ is our #1 prospect, but is blocked at 2nd base. He’s my favorite prospect though and is the one guy in the farm system I’d like to protect (he was also the guy I wanted to protect last year, so at least I’m consistent). Eloy Jimenez is out #2 prospect and is highly coveted by everyone. He would be the big farm chip in any big trade like this. He was the #1 ranked guy in the 2013 international crop, and hasn’t disappointed. And as the #23 ranked prospect in baseball, he’d become the #1 prospect on most teams…including the White Sox.
The question is really how much would the Cubs have to give up to get Sale. Major league talent will help immensely. Every trade dream this offseason will include Soler as that major league chip. It’s not that Soler is bad, it’s that he’s the odd man out for the Cubs. He’s young, affordable, controllable. He’s still got four years left on his contract and is only owed $15 million dollars over those years. Never underestimate just how valuable this cheap contract is. Especially for someone who could very easily become a 30 homer player if given the chance to play every day. In the American League with the flexibility the DH offers, he will definitely have that chance.
So now we have Soler and Jimenez. Great start. Not enough yet. Caratini is another great trade chip the Cubs own. They are stacked at catcher as very few other teams are. He may only be our #15 prospect, but I think his value is higher than that to other teams because he’s close to ready (September call-up maybe), he’s a switch hitter, he’s versatile (he can also play 1st & 3rd), and the aforementioned catching position.
The final piece of this trade: Dylan Cease. Our #3 ranked prospect, who would also become the White Sox #3 ranked prospect. He should be ready in 2018 and depending on his improvement, could even be a September call-up.
So there you have it. Soler, Jimenez, Caratini, and Cease for Chris Sale. For the Cubs, it’s a lot to give up. For the White Sox, it’s not enough to get. For me, it’s just perfect. We have no real need to add Sale to our team, and because of that, Schwarber and Baez can be off the table. If the White Sox don’t like that, let them trade Sale elsewhere. But whatever happens, wherever Sale ends up, match that trade up to this one and I’ll bet you’ll find this to be on par in value.
Looking at it from my perspective, Soler makes and immediate impact to the Sox lineup and their farm system jumps way up in the rankings with players that are not too far off from the majors. With two big-time catchers (the other being Zack Collins) the Sox could wait to see who’s better, hoping that of the two, one will make it. Or they could flip one for something else. Or they could continue developing Caratini with position versatility. Cease gives the Sox 4 pitchers in their top-7 ranked farm hands. And finally, Jimenez gives them a new #1 ranked prospect.