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The Cubs Won’t Trade For Chris Sale. But What If They Did?

This is mostly a thought exercise.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has finished in the top six of Cy Young voting each of the last five years, and also received downballot MVP votes in 2015 and 2016.

This, you likely already know. You also know that Sale displeased White Sox management during 2016 by, among other things, cutting up throwback jerseys the team was supposed to wear during one of his starts. He claimed they weren’t “comfortable.”

The Sox no longer seem comfortable with Sale on their team. There was even talk that they might trade him before last summer’s deadline. Either they somehow thought they were still in contention or they didn’t get an offer they thought was enough.

It seems likely the Sox will deal Sale this offseason. Of course, he’d look great in the Cubs rotation. He’d look good in anyone’s rotation.

I’d guess Rick Hahn would start by asking for Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez, which should be enough to prompt Theo Epstein to hang up the phone.

Is there any sort of package the Cubs could put together for Sale that wouldn’t break up the young core that just won the World Series? I’m not sure that any such package coming from the Cubs exists. (No, I’m not going to suggest Jorge Soler as a centerpiece, although, as for any A.L. team, he might be attractive as a designated hitter.)

Sale is under contract through 2017 at $9.15 million, with team options for 2018 and 2019 at $12.5 million each, which any team would exercise as they’re way below market. (There’s a $1 million buyout for each option.) So, essentially Sale’s got a three-year deal worth $34.15 million, a bargain for someone so good.

I honestly don’t think the Cubs have any package they could put together for Sale that doesn’t break up the core. But maybe you do. Feel free to try to put together something. As I noted above, this is mostly just a thought exercise.