Even after signing R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, and trading for Jaime Garcia, the Braves are still looking to add pitching this offseason. White Sox ace Chris Sale is atop their wish list.
Chicago, of course, has set a very high price for Sale, and understandably so. He’s great and signed affordably for another three years. According to multiple reports, the White Sox have asked the Braves for rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson in any Sale trade, but Atlanta won’t budge.
Keep in mind Swanson was one of three players the Braves acquired in last winter’s Shelby Miller trade, and now he’s untouchable in a Sale trade. That’s not crazy, though. Swanson is really good. The Miller trade with the Diamondbacks was a total head-scratcher for Arizona. Goodness.
Even with Swanson off the table, the Braves still have a deep enough farm system to make a competitive offer for Sale. Shortstop Ozzie Albies, who MLB.com currently ranks as the 12th best prospect in baseball, would make for a great center piece in a Sale trade. Atlanta also has a ton of pitching prospects. A ton.
The Braves added Dickey, Colon and Garcia to help the club be somewhat competitive in 2017, when they move into SunTrust Park. All three can become free agents after next season, however. They’re placeholders for all those top pitching prospects, some of whom are very close to major-league ready.
Sale is more of a long-term buy. He’d join Julio Teheran at the front of the rotation for the next few seasons as the Braves transition from rebuilder to contender. Keep in mind Sale is still only 27. He fits with the youth movement given his age. Besides, there’s never a bad time to get someone like him.
Swanson, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, hit .302/.361/.442 (115 OPS+) with three home runs in 38 games in 2016. The 22-year-old did not exhaust his rookie status, so he’s currently the super early favorite for the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year award.