Staggeringly fantastic.  I used those words in an article in November to describe the kind of return that would be expected should the White Sox begin trading players in a full roster re-building effort.  The 2016 MLB Winter Meetings wrapped up on Thursday, and for those hoping for an actively re-building White Sox club the week did not disappoint.  The White Sox made two huge trades, acquiring a staggeringly fantastic group of young talent.

On Tuesday, the White Sox traded their ace, and arguably best starting pitcher in franchise history, Chris Sale, to the Boston Red Sox for a very impressive group of prospects: IF Yoan Moncada, SP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Alexander Basabe, and RP Victor Diaz.  Yoan Moncada, the consensus #1 prospect in all of baseball, is the biggest prize of the deal, with Michael Kopech not far behind.  Before the Sox pulled the trigger on Boston’s offer, it had been rumored that both the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros had also offered a group of their top prospects in an effort to acquire Sale.  However, both the Nationals and Astros refused to include their top young position players, Trea Turner and Alex Bregman, who both graduated from prospect status in 2016 after very successful performances in the majors after being called up mid-season.  White Sox Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Hahn admitted that it was bittersweet to trade a player of Sale’s caliber, essentially admitting the club’s failure to win with the core of players that included Sale.  However, he stressed that he and the entire front office is very excited and optimistic about Moncada, Kopech, and company.  On the flip side, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski flew below the radar and swooped in to trade for Sale and said,

“The ability to get a Chris Sale doesn’t come along that often.  This is one of the best pitchers in baseball, proven. We’re trying to win. There will come a day when Moncada is putting in his 15-year career that we will be saying, ‘The Red Sox, geez, I can’t believe we traded that guy.’  (Moncada) is a great player, and if he’s not a tremendous player, I will be very surprised. But, again, you have to give to get.”

Dombrowski wisely admits that the Red Sox needed to give up appropriate value in order to obtain Sale, one of the best starting pitchers in the game whose contract earns him roughly 40% of his market value, even if it was painful.  The Nationals and Astros refused to do the same, deeming their best untouchable, and now Dombrowski has the prize.  At a time when teams are holding onto prospects and young talent like they are gold, Dombrowski stepped up and got it done for the Red Sox.  He zigged when the rest of the league zagged, as so often he has done, and impressively landed Sale, shoring up the Red Sox starting rotation.  If you recall from my “Deal or No Deal” series of articles, I predicted Dombrowski would make this big move, and he did not disappoint.

On Wednesday rumors continued to fly, leading the White Sox to trade star outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for another haul of talented prospects: SP Lucas Giolito, SP Reynaldo Lopez, and SP Dane Dunning.  Both Giolito, the #1 pitching prospect in baseball, and Lopez spent time in the big leagues in 2016 with mixed results.  Dunning was drafted 29th overall in the 2016 draft and was highly coveted by the White Sox as an amateur.  Hahn discussed the bittersweet nature of this deal as well, but again moved on to indicate that the front office is gushing over the incredible talent acquired in this deal.  What perhaps makes this deal even more painful is that the White Sox acquired Eaton in a bargain of a trade brokered by Hahn at the Winter Meetings in 2013.  In that deal the White Sox acquired Eaton while trading SP Hector Santiago to the Angels as part of a 3-way trade that also sent Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks.  It was an absolute steal for the Sox.  As news broke of this week’s trade, many experts were shocked at the apparent “overpay” by the Nationals.  However, with their backs against the wall and bidding against other teams who wanted Eaton, the Nationals put together an appropriate package needed to acquire Eaton.  Eaton will have a great impact on their club in 2017 and 2018, perhaps the last of a window of opportunity to win in DC with Bryce Harper likely leaving via free agency after 2018, and beyond.  Kudos to both the Nationals for recognizing the value of Adam Eaton, an excellent baseball player with an extremely favorable contract, and the White Sox for insisting on a huge return for Eaton.

The 2016 MLB Winter Meetings came to a close on Thursday, when the White Sox acquired Oakland A’s AA pitcher Dylan Covey in the Rule 5 Draft.  When the dust settled, the White Sox had added 4 of MLB’s top 100 prospects.  They have improved their farm system so dramatically this week that many experts estimate the White Sox now have as high as the 5th best farm system in baseball, up from being roughly 25th best in baseball.  Keep in mind, this is after only two trades.  There will be much more to come as rumors continue to swirl about David Roberson, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, and others.  The re-build has begun and is in full swing, and the White Sox are already walking in a Winter Wonderland of prospects.  I, for one, can’t wait to see what comes next.  -DV

Who is your favorite prospect the White Sox traded for this week?  Who should they trade next?  Let us know in the comments below!

Twitter:  @DaVroomer

 

Photo:  Keith Allison

 

 

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