Houston Astros Winter Trade Series: SP Chris Sale


As the annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings approaches, CTH will be debuting a Winter Trade Series on possible players the Houston Astros could acquire this winter. This year’s meeting will be hosted in Nashville from December 7th to 10th. Last year, the Astros acquired Evan Gattis whereas previous seasons the Astros were mostly quiet. After getting within six outs from the ALCS, the Astros could very well be one of the most active teams in year’s meeting.  The first trade idea we will looked at earlier this week was the Astros trading for Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

This week’s trade idea will look at the Astros trading for White Sox Starting Pitcher Chris Sale. It would pain many Astros fans to know the organization had a chance to take Chris Sale in the 2010 MLB Draft. However, the Astros selected Delino DeShields, Jr. with the 8th pick and Chris Sale was later chosen 13th by the White Sox. DeShields is no longer an Astro and playing for the division and in-state rival Texas Rangers.  Here is an idea of a proposed trade package between the two ball clubs:

Astros Receive: SP Chris Sale

White Sox Receive: SP Mark Appel, SP Michael Feliz, and 3B J.D. Davis

Why the Astros Should Make the Trade

In the first half of the season, Chris Sale was arguably in the Cy-Young Race with Dallas Keuchel.  Via Brooks Baseball, Sale has a high velocity four-seam fastball ranging from 93-98 mpg, a two-seam fastball ranging 91-93 mph, and a devastating slider ranging 79-83 mph.  He also tosses a change up to right-handers. His slider is what dominates batters giving Sale career whiff rate of 43% with the pitch.  At 26, Sale has completed about four years of full play. He has a career 2.91 ERA and managed to win at least ten games in each of the past four seasons. He was third (first in AL) in strikeouts this season with 274. Putting Chris Sale behind Dallas Keuchel along would give the Astros their most dominate pitching staff since the Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt staff. It might even solidify the Astros rotation for next 5-7 years.  While the Astros would give up some of their top prospects, the award of a dominant pitcher like Sale could take the Astros to the next level.

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Sale’s contract situation is an affordable opportunity for the Astros. He’s due roughly over $47 million in the next four years and has a team option in each of the final two years. Sale would less than half of the price of a free agent such as David Price or Zach Greinke. He’s still in the prime of his care at only 26 years old.  As a lefty, he would provide the Astros will a replacement (well…upgrade) for Scott Kazmir.

The White Sox are for sure to at least listen to offers this winter. With the Astros recently being ranked the #1 farm system in 2015 my MiLB.com, they can easily jump into the conversation for Sale and challenge teams like the Red Sox seeking starting pitching help. Appel and Feliz are two of the top pitching prospects in the minors and would help replace the void of Sale in the next couple of years. The White Sox also could save money as well for other needs. The White Sox are also in need of both a power bat and a third basemen. Davis could easily be their third basemen of the future. It’s possible the White Sox could demand a little bit more in this potential trade package, but for a guy like Chris Sale – you have to at least strongly consider it.

Why the Astros Should NOT Make the Trade

As dominate as Chris Sale has been the past four years, there are concerns that his pitching style and mechanics will easily cause injury for the pitcher. After the All-Star break, Sale wasn’t much better than Scott Kazmir.  He went 5-7 with a 4.33 ERA. While Sale has become more consistent, some still consider him to be a hot or cold pitcher. One game he could strike out ten and give up just two hits.  The next game he could walk six and give up 5 earned runs.  While Mark Appel has had a slower development than expected, he has still shown improvement in each stage of his development.  Some are even considering Michael Feliz a better pitching prospect than Appel.  Davis power ability at third base could either be a major asset for the Astros or a better trade chip in another trade package.

While I think the Astros should seriously consider trading for Sale if the opportunity presents itself, it’s possible they just get outbid by teams like the Red Sox or Dodgers.  While the Astros have the farm system to get it done, the Astros don’t need to sale (no pun intended) the entire farm when they have other options to improve their rotation.

Next: Colby Rasmus Accepts the Houston Astros Qualifying Offer

Closing Thoughts

If this were legitimately a trade package the White Sox would take; I think it’s a no-brainer.  While Appel and Feliz are intriguing prospects, they’re unproven in the majors.  By making the playoffs this year, the Astros have proved they are just as good as anybody.  Adding a guy like Sale, whom they would have under control for the next four years, is simply too good to pass up.