NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – On Tuesday, Rick Hahn took his first step toward a major rebuilding for the White Sox in 2017.
It starts with the team’s top pitcher and arguably their franchise player, whom the sweepstakes at baseball’s Winter Meeting appear to having finally come to an end.
On Tuesday the White Sox traded pitcher Chris Sale to the Red Sox in exchange for a few prospects. That includes highly touted infielder Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech along with two others.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to have the report. The White Sox later confirmed the move.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2016
“When you trade a pitcher of Chris Sale’s ability, it can only be because we were motivated by an impactful return of young talent, and we have more than accomplished that with Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz,” said Hahn in a statement released by the team. “We believe each of these players can be part of a quality core of future championship caliber White Sox teams.”
Moncada, a second and third baseman, was rated as the No. 1 prospect in Major League Baseball by MLB.com in 2016.
A native of Cuba, Moncada signed with the Red Sox in February of 2015. He played 81 games with the Class A Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League for the rest of that year then made his way through Advanced A ball with the Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League before moving up to play for the Class AA Portland Sea Dogs of the Eastern League.
On September 2nd of this year, he made his Major League Baseball debut with the Red Sox. In eight games with Boston he made 19 plate appearances with four hits and an RBI, batting .211 for the month he was with the Red Sox.
Kopech was the Red Sox’s first round draft pick in 2014 out of Mount Pleasant High School in Texas. He joined the Boston farm system after that and has had four stops in the system, mostly in Class A ball.
In 36 games in the Red Sox’s minor league system as a starting pitcher, Kopech has an 8-7 record with a 2.60 ERA with 172 strikeouts compared to 69 walks.
Meanwhile the White Sox lose their best starting pitcher in Sale, who over the past six years developed into the ace of the staff. Drafted with the 13th overall pick by the team in the 2010 Draft, Sale has been elected to five All-Star Games and started the Midsummer Classic for the first time in 2016.
His 274 strikeouts in 2015 were the highest in the American League and broke the franchise record. In six seasons, Sale finished with 1,244 strikeouts with the White Sox while posting a 74-50 overall record and a 3.00 ERA.
Last season Sale finished with a 17-10 record with a 3.34 ERA with 233 strikeouts – the second-highest total of his career.