I almost chose not to write about this at all, but the dearth of other news involving the Cubs had me jonesing something awful. So when I saw the Buster Olney report that “The White Sox have told the Cubs they won’t deal with them” re: a blockbuster Chris Sale deal, I felt compelled to hunt and peck my way to a cogent opinion on the matter.
Let’s first address the massive amount of short-sighted recalcitrance here, which should vex every baseball fan and anger those of the Good Guys who wear black. I can understand the reluctance to trade Sale, as no one wants to part with a franchise cornerstone still very much in his prime. The Sox would be insane to let him go for anything short of a king’s ransom, but they’re equally insane for being unwilling to engage every kingdom to see who’s willing to pay the most.
By openly refusing to deal with That Team Up North, one that they face only four times each year in that farce of a rivalry known as the BP Crosstown Cup, White Sox management is operating with a fan’s mentality. And I’m talking about those who gathered at McNally’s to root against the Cubs in the playoffs. Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, probably with more than a little influence from Jerry Reinsdorf, are pouring the barbeque sauce into the crock pot hot tub to make it comfortable for all the meatballs.
Or are they?
A baseball exec’s job is pretty simple: put together a winning ballclub. That’s easier said than done, though, and you’re often only as good as your last trade/signing/draft. One need look no further than Doubting Theo, a tumblr page that proves even the reigning Executive of the Year has had his share of detractors. But when you’re on the other side of town and being compared to a man who’s now won World Series titles in both Boston and Chicago, you might be wise to avoid dealing with him directly.
Any deal the Sox could possibly make involving Sale will be scrutinized ad infinitum. Now imagine them trading him to the Cubs and having him go on to win a title on the North Side. Even if the return was enough to rebuild a moribund farm system, the immediate and obvious talent gap between the two teams might well be enough to swallow Hahn and Williams whole.
Jon Greenberg’s got a really nice piece on why the Sox and Cubs are wary of dealing with one another and why they’d still absolutely make a trade if it made sense for both sides. Of course, the stakes involved in a Chris Sale swap would be such that I can’t imagine Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer even entertaining the idea in the first place. Which is why the stated refusal to engage the Cubs in potential trade talks is at best dubious and at worst a bit of pandering to the fanbase.
But if the shoe was on the other foot, would Cubs fans want to see Javy Baez or Kyle Schwarber or Jake Arrieta change the color of their pinstripes from royal blue to black? The most pragmatic among you would say it depends on the return, and you’d be right. Well, inasmuch as we can be right or wrong on such matters. And while Epstein or Hoyer would likely never make known their lack of desire to deal with a particular team, I can very much believe that they’re subject to the same emotions as the rest of us. They’re generally not as bound by them when it comes to making personnel decisions, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatons.
Emotions aside, there’s also the thought that the Sox would leverage by eliminating a team that will be very much in the market for starting pitching in the near future. But c’mon, are the Sox really going to hurting for suitors should they really get serious about trading their lanky lefty? Unless we’re talking about a team that opts for uncomfortable throwbacks on the regular, I can’t see many being like, “Nah, bro, we don’t need a perennial Cy Young candidate.”
Yeah, I think it’s kinda silly that the Sox would openly admit to not wanting to deal with the Cubs. It’s also kinda silly that I’d spend part of my afternoon writing about both how silly it is and how I also think it kinda makes sense. And now that I’ve chased my tail enough that I’m dizzy, I’ll bid you adieu.
Before I take my leave of you, however, I’ll ask you to weigh in on the topic below. Are the Sox crazy for ruling the Cubs out or is it a moot point since there’s no way the Cubs would meet the asking price in the first place?