Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Revisiting Chris Sale blockbuster trade, was it worth it for Red Sox?

Ryan Hannable
July 10, 2017 - 9:44 am

One of the biggest moves in baseball this offseason was the Red Sox acquiring left-hander Chris Sale from the White Sox in a blockbuster trade.

The Red Sox sent top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, along with minor leaguers Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz to the White Sox in exchange for Sale.

Obviously to get a player like Sale, and his team-friendly contract, you have to give up a lot, which the Red Sox did by giving up two of their arguably top three prospects at the time, but at first glance seven months after the deal, it seems like a good trade.

Kopech finds himself keeping up with how Sale is doing with the Red Sox as one day he wants to be like the tall left-hander.

"It's hard not to keep up with him of late considering he's striking out everyone he faces," Kopech said to MLB.com recently. "That's pretty cool, because my goal last year was to be in the position he is now with the Red Sox. My goal this year is to be in the position he used to be with the White Sox. It's a guy that's fun for me to watch because I can imagine myself in his shoes."

With three of the five players (Sale, Kopech and Moncada) involved in the deal in Miami this week as part of the All-Star Game festivities, it’s worth examining the trade by getting a stock of how the players are doing with their new teams.

RED SOX

Chris Sale: The 6-foot-6 lefty is 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 18 starts this season. Sale has thrown 127 2/3 innings and has racked up 178 strikeouts, which has him on pace for 335 this season. Nolan Ryan has the MLB record in the live ball era when he struck out 383 in 1973. Sale’s impact goes beyond what he does on the mound, as he is one of the leaders in the Red Sox clubhouse and his bulldog attitude has rubbed off on others.

WHITE SOX

Yoan Moncada: The 22-year-old is batting .282/.380/.451 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 73 games with Triple-A Charlotte, but he has struck out 93 times on the year. Defensively at second base, he’s made 11 errors. Moncada got off to a hot start by hitting .314 and .310 in April and May respectively, but hit .236 and .286 in June and July. The switch-hitter continues to hit better from the left side as he’s batting .306 against righties and .218 against lefties.

Michael Kopech: In 16 starts with Double-A Birmingham, the hard-throwing righty is 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA. He continues to overpower batters by striking out 101 batters in 78 1/3 innings, but control still appears to be something he’s working on as he’s walked 53 hitters. He’s struggled lately as well. In April and May he had a 2.50 and 2.31 ERA, but had a 6.95 ERA in June.

Luis Alexander Basabe: Basabe is with High-A Winston-Salem and is batting .211/.314/.318 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. He also is racking up the strikeouts, as he has totaled 85 in 79 games. The switch-hitter got off to a good start to the season by hitting .277 in April, but was below .200 in both May and June. The 20-year-old’s twin brother Luis Alejandro Basabe was traded by the Red Sox to the Diamondbacks last season for reliever Brad Ziegler.

Victor Diaz: Diaz is also with High-A Winston Salem and has appeared in nine games as a reliever, going nine innings and allowing 12 earned runs on 11 hits, while striking out 13.

ANALYSIS

It’s hard to make a final judgment on the trade until Sale’s Red Sox career is over (his contract expires at the end of the 2019 season) and until Kopech and Moncada play a few years in the majors. If Kopech reaches his maximum potential he likely would be a top of the rotation starter, but that is what Sale is now. Moncada is one of the best athletes in all of baseball, but is still working on translating those skills to actual baseball. The Red Sox tried him at third base last year, which didn’t work, and his natural position of second base is occupied by Dustin Pedroia, so there was a natural roadblock there. The other two players in the deal — Basabe and Diaz — likely won’t be impactful players at the big league level. Sale has been everything the Red Sox expected and more this season, so on the surface, seven months after the trade was made he appears to be worth the price of two of the top prospects in baseball just because of Sale’s impact and the overlap of positions within the Red Sox organization.

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