By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Before the Red Sox shelled out $217 million to land prized free agent David Price, it remained a mystery as to how the team would get their much-needed "ace" starting pitcher. One of the possible trade avenues involved White Sox starter Chris Sale, who has established himself as one of the game's most dominant power pitchers.
Now, The White Sox Opening Day starter is at the forefront of the team's inner turmoil involving the retirement of Adam LaRoche, which came about when team vice president Ken Williams asked the first baseman not to bring his son Drake to games as often as he had been - which was virtually every day. Sale may want out of Chicago, and if there is any team that could present the kind of package it would take to bring Sale to Boston, it would be the Red Sox.
A report by the Chicago Sun-Times Friday says Sale "ripped" Williams when he met with reporters in the White Sox spring training clubhouse, where he had LaRoche's jersey hanging from his locker. Sale reportedly called Williams out in a team meeting on Tuesday and eventually asked the VP to leave, and the problem apparently lies with Williams' continued dishonesty in his handling of the LaRoche situation, rather than the decisions themselves.
"We got bald-faced lied to" said Sale. "This isn't us rebelling against rules, it's us rebelling against BS. Plain and simple."
Sale expounded upon the problem Williams needlessly "created" in the clubhouse, saying he told different parts of the organization that other departments were complaining about LaRoche's son being in the clubhouse as often as he was. Essentially, Williams is alleged to have played players, coaches, and the front office against each other. According to Sale, "There was no problem."
So where does this debacle in Chicago factor into the Red Sox's plans? While Boston already has its ace, two aces would make the team a prohibitive favorite in the AL East and one of the American League's top playoff contenders. Not to mention, they'd be 20 percent closer to manager John Farrell's dream of having "five No. 1s."
It would take a massive package to pry Sale from Chicago, but the Red Sox potentially have the prospects to pull it off.
Felger & Mazz producer James Stewart got things going on Twitter Friday, speculating what kind of package the Red Sox could send Chicago's way for Sale. He threw out one idea involving Hanley Ramirez; in a perfect world (for some), the Red Sox get Chicago to take Hanley Ramirez and make him their new DH with the departure of LaRoche, but deals like the Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett trade are the rarest of transactions in baseball.
Assuming the Red Sox are encumbered with the remainder of Ramirez's four-year, $88 million contract, and that top prospect Yoan Moncada is untouchable, who would they need to package to make a deal for Sale? The White Sox would surely expect a strong pitching prospect in the deal, but Henry Owens probably doesn't carry that kind of value. Eduardo Rodriguez certainly has the upside of a top-of-the-rotation starter, but has yet to put it all together and his recent injuries could be a concern for potential suitors. It's possible that the White Sox would ask about 18-year-old righty Anderson Espinoza, the team's top pitching prospect according to SoxProspects.com with a mid-to-upper-90s fastball and sky-high ceiling.
It's likely a deal would require an everyday player or young, major-league-ready prospect to go to the White Sox. Blake Swihart comes to mind, especially considering that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski expressed his affinity for defense at the catcher position, which would give Christian Vazquez a better chance to be the Red Sox's catcher of the future. The White Sox also could get younger (and more talented) at catcher, with veterans Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro currently atop the depth chart.
If a deal started with Swihart and Espinoza, what else would the Red Sox need to add? Perhaps Owens could become a secondary part of the deal if Espinoza were involved; he certainly could immediately fill a rotation spot on the White Sox. Chicago could also use a power arm in the bullpen behind closer David Robertson, which would make hard-throwing righty Pat Light an intriguing throw-in.
Of course, this is all contingent on 1) Sale actually wanting out of Chicago; his issues could very well stop at the vice president, and 2) that Williams doesn't feel he has a team that can contend right now. Considering he added Todd Frazier in the offseason, he may still have a "win now" mentality.
There's also the inescapable reality that Sale is under contract for two years with $9.15 million this season and $12 million in 2017, and no-brainer options of $12.5 million in 2018 and $15 million in 2019. The security and value associated with a premium pitcher like Sale could command an even bigger package than what is being bandied about here.
If Sale is angry enough, and it's rocking the clubhouse, Williams may not have a choice. Dombrowski should not have a choice; he should already be kicking the tires on Sale.
What do you think it would take for the Red Sox to get Chris Sale? Would a package of Swihart, Espinoza, Owens, and Light be enough? Is this package too big, even for a pitcher of Sale's caliber? Shoot me a tweet or email with your thoughts.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.
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