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Insider

Did the White Sox leverage the media to make the Chris Sale trade?

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How did Boston's trade for Sale come about? (1:00)

Buster Olney says the Red Sox came in hard on Chris Sale after it was learned the Nationals were close on a deal, and outlines how Boston has traded four elite prospects over the past 13 months in order to win. (1:00)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- A theory in some corners of the industry is that the White Sox played a smart and increasingly common strategy of employing media-driven leverage in their Chris Sale trade talks this week. At the winter meetings, hundreds of writers (like me) fire off tweets like punches in a crazy, chaotic bar fight, 140-character nerd jabs and haymakers, and within that atmosphere, word leaked out Monday night that the Washington Nationals were really close to finishing a deal for the All-Star left-hander.

With the potential of a Sale swap to Washington hanging like an anvil, the White Sox were able to proceed in their conversations with the Red Sox with a little more gravity. In so many words, the White Sox informed Boston that unless the final requested pieces were in the trade, Chicago was prepared to make a deal with Washington, and by late in the morning Tuesday, White Sox executives were able to choose from two strong offers.

But some evaluators thought Boston’s offer was staggering, a value-for-value overpay by a team willing and able to do so. “No way anyone was close to that,” one rival executive noted. Keith Law writes that Chicago got great return.

Now the White Sox embark on a plan of necessary rebuilding, maybe a year too late, but the right action, for sure, with other moves to make. The White Sox informed other organizations last month that they are willing to trade any player with less than four years of team control, a list that includes first baseman Jose Abreu, third baseman Todd Frazier, closer David Robertson, and outfielder Melky Cabrera, but does not include outfielder Adam Eaton. By moving Robertson now to a team that loses out in the Kenley Jansen/Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes would make sense, to save money.