Can the Red Sox pull off the Sale of the Century?

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox talks with Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
David Ortiz talked with Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California. –Getty Images

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COMMENTARY

Imagine the beaming pride from Joseph Abboud, sitting in his Fenway Park box seats, watching new Red Sox ace Chris Sale take the mound.

The longtime fan and fashion designer has probably never had a player to follow with more of a symbiosis than the current Chicago White Sox lefty, suspended by the team for five days after the likely American League Cy Young Award Winner summoned the role of Tailor of Comiskey over the weekend.

Chris Sale is a loon.

How soon can he get to Boston?

If there’s a prerequisite that Sale would have to approve any future use of Boston’s 1975 throwback garb, perhaps the Red Sox front office can send him a sample of the fabric, assuring him of the material’s integrity and comfort level. If the team decides to go with a 1918 model, maybe Abboud can specially-outfit the wool material with something more suitable to Sale’s playing style.

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Whatever it takes to potentially avoid a situation like the one that unfolded Saturday prior to Sale’s start against the Detroit Tigers, a game during which the White Sox were scheduled to wear navy, collared throwbacks from 1976. That is, before Sale reportedly took a knife to the stitchings during batting practice, rendering the uniforms to factory scrap heaps on the clubhouse floor at U.S. Cellular Field.

Some clubhouse in Chicago. Back in spring training, Adam LaRoche quit the team because lil’ Drake couldn’t be a regular with the team. Now, the White Sox have their star pitcher on a hissy-fit alterations campaign because he wasn’t keen with the throwbacks, which he reportedly said were uncomfortable and putting “PR and jersey sales” above winning.

Remember when the 48-50 White Sox were in first place as recently as May 27?

They’re just treading water now, 8 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central, 6 1/2 games off the pace in the wild card chase, leading to speculation that it’s full-on rebuild time in Chicago, putting Sale (14-3, 3.18 ERA) and fellow White Sox starter Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97) on the market in advance of the Aug. 1 trading deadline.

Either pitcher would return a wealth of prospects to the White Sox, particularly in exchange for the 27-year-old Sale, who has one year remaining on his five-year, $32.5 million contract, with a  2018 team option worth $12.5 million, and one in 2019 worth $13.5 million.

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But Chicago wants to assure you, this hasn’t changed his trade status.

Right.

“I want to make clear the actions of the last 24 hours doesn’t change in any respect our belief that Chris Sale can help this team win a championship,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. “It doesn’t move the needle one iota.”

That’s cute to think so, but it also sounds like much of the same mantra that came out of Boston in the days after Manny Ramirez pushed traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the floor.

A month later, he was in Los Angeles playing for the Dodgers.

The history with Sale isn’t as long and muddied as it was with Ramirez, but this latest incident might be another sign that it’s time to rebuild in Chicago, with Sale and Quintana looming as a pair of enormous assets to dangle in the remaining week prior to the non-waiver dealing deadline.

Here’s where the Red Sox’ recent acquisition of lefty Drew Pomeranz could come back to bite them. Pomeranz, who took the loss Monday night against the Tigers, of course, sent Boston’s top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, to San Diego. But imagine a mammoth deal in which Dave Dombrowski were able to offer Espinoza, outfielder Andrew Benintendi, and third baseman Rafael Devers to Chicago team president Kenny Williams? Sale would probably be in a Boston uniform in time for his next scheduled start on Thursday, and the Red Sox would also still be able to retain second base prospect Yoan Moncada.

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Now? Moncada probably begins the discussion between the two clubs, and if he has, indeed, become the darling face of the farm system, then Dombrowski would have to steer the ship toward a package of Benintendi, Devers, pitcher Michael Kopech, and possibly something of worth on the major league level (Travis Shaw?)

It’s difficult to imagine that wouldn’t get it done.

The Red Sox would have a lefty-heavy, crowded rotation including David Price, Sale, Steven Wright, Rick Porcello, Pomerantz, and Eduardo Rodriguez heading down the stretch. But this would really also be a deal aimed at the next three seasons, pairing Price and Sale, two of the best southpaws in the major leagues, atop the rotation. There also has to be some gimmicky “What’s the Price, make the Sale” marketing campaign that Tom Werner can come up with.

That’s also a veritable unloading of the top prospects in the organization. Then again, the Red Sox don’t exactly have a pitcher the caliber of Chris Sale climbing the rungs of the minor league ladder.

But if Sale is attainable without surrendering Moncada, is he worth it?

If he costs Moncada, is he still worth it?

If the Red Sox wanted big and bold in hiring Dombrowski last summer, a pair of adjectives that didn’t exactly define Ben Cherington’s trade market, the sniffing around on the Sale front this week is going to be fascinating. At his age, and with his contract, there are few opportunities in which a guy like Sale would be available. But with Chicago possibly throwing up the white flag, the long-term benefits could be whopping.

After this weekend, maybe it’s evident that Sale is also trying to cut his way out of town. It’s still not likely to slash the price on what the White Sox can demand.

It’s a longshot, but Sale would cement the Red Sox as the best starting staff in the American League, perhaps as long as into 2019.

Just refrain from bringing sharp objects into the general vicinity of his new locker.

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