Back for its third installment, it’s Rumor Has It! Not a bad run for a series that started less than one week ago.
And if you’re looking for your weekly dose of Monday motivation, ask yourself this: are you as ambitious as the Washington Nationals? That’s the bar this morning. With apparent reports suggesting Washington is targeting both Andrew McCutchen and Chris Sale, we might be on the verge of reaching a whole new level at MLB’s Winter Meetings. That, or it’s just a bunch of talk.
After all, I’d love to win the Nobel Prize. Or write poetry so great that Charles Bukowski himself would rise from the dead just to tell me to (redacted) off. But I know better.
Still, reports indicate the Nationals believe they have the prospects to get both. Let’s focus on that. First of all, based on the information at hand, the Nats won’t include outfielder Victor Robles for Cutch. To that I say, good luck. Additionally, they won’t include shortstop Trea Turner in a potential deal for Sale.
I understand the latter to an extent, but if your intention is to take arguably the best pitcher in the American League (plus McCutchen), you have to part with something big. In this case, multiple somethings. We all know Cutch had a rough 2016, but surely you cannot acquire two of baseball’s best in recent years without giving up at least one of your top prospects.
So pretending Robles isn’t involved in a swap with the Pirates, what does that mean? It means you’re going to give up more players. Now while they don’t have Robles’ ability, trading more players for Cutch means you have less to give up for Sale. And let’s be honest, you’re going to need just about everything your system boasts in order to acquire Sale.
The Chicago White Sox want a club’s top prospect for starters. It gets much steeper after that, which makes plenty of sense. It might have been even more feasible had they been open to trading him earlier. But if the Nationals are serious, what would it take? Let’s use my example from last Thursday, meaning Washington ends up parting with Robles (and Reynaldo LA?pez).
That becomes enough for Pittsburgh, which leaves Washington with Turner Lucas Giolito (No. 5), Erick Fedde (No. 82), Carter Kieboom (first-rounder), Dane Dunning (first-rounder), Sheldon Neuse (second-rounder), and Andrew Stevenson (second-rounder, ’15) to deal from. Those folks round out their top eight prospects. Is that enough? Plus, we don’t even know if they would part with Giolito. (Umm, they’ll have to.)
Hell if I’m Chicago, I’m also asking for someone like Anthony Rendon just to see what happens. Roll your eyes at me if you’d like and laugh at me all you want, but this isn’t just any pitcher we’re talking about. It’s Chris Sale. He’s a 27-year-old lefty (28 in March) who is under contract for $12 million next seasona��a contract that includes two very team-friendly options of $12.5 million in ’17 and $13.5 million in ’18. Per Fangraphs, his lowest fWAR over a full season was 4.7 (2012).
Oh, and his career numbers are alright, too: 3.00 ERA, 2.46 DRA; 10.1 K/9, 2.1 BB/9; 0.9 HR/9.
This isn’t the MLB 2K trade finder we’re talking about. These are organizations run by living, breathing human beings. So if the Nationals are serious (and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t), they need to come to grips with the fact that the price is going to be high. Ridiculously high.
All prospect rankings via Baseball America, 2016; draft choices from 1st round, 2016, unless otherwise noted.