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Dodgers: Forget David Price, Get Chris Sale

Sale can still be great but there is risk.



There are all kinds of trade rumors going around about the Dodgers trying to trade for Mookie Betts. Many of the rumors have the name of David Price in them as the Red Sox aim to shed salary. Of course, the prospect cost for Betts would go down if Price were included in the trade.

At this moment the Red Sox are a mess with cheating penalties hanging over their head. As repeat offenders their penalties could be worse than the Astr*s received.

As of Sunday, the Red Sox are $19M over the first luxury tax threshold. If the Red Sox trade Betts to the Dodgers for just minimum wage players then they get under the luxury tax for 2020. If David Price is involved then some other contracts on the Dodgers can be absorbed by the Red Sox. However, why not make a play to make the playoff rotation stronger?

Price could be good but Chris Sale would be a better target. This article will look at going after Sale instead of Price.

Why Chris Sale?

Chris Sale has been an excellent pitcher for most of his career but struggled in 2019. The season started with the Red Sox slow-playing some the their pitchers including Sale. He had elbow soreness most of the season yet the Red Sox had him throw 100 or more pitches in 15 of his starts. Sale was shutdown in early August with elbow inflammation. He ended the season with a career worst 4.47 ERA but still struck out 218 batters in 147.1 innings pitched.

There are concerns that Sale’s best days are behind him but I’m confident he can still be big-time pitcher again. His velocity went from a career high average of 94.7 MPH on his fastball in 2018 down to 93.2 in 2019. Obviously, his elbow issues didn’t help his velocity. He has a little over 1600 innings pitched for his career and his build has concerned more than a few baseball people.

Some reasons I think he could still be a big-time pitcher and why this Dodgers could need him:

  • 147.1 IP with just 123 hits and 218 Ks in 2019
  • His 2018 ERA was 2.11 with 237 Ks and 102 hits in 158 IPs
  • The Dodgers have a ton of starting pitching depth to limit Sale’s innings until the playoffs
  • He could be the co-ace the Dodgers need in the playoffs – imagine a healthy Sale paired up with Buehler
  • What other pitchers with Sale’s upside are available via trade this season?

Isn’t Price A Good Option?

I think David Price could fill a roll with the Dodgers but I don’t think he has near the upside of Chris Sale. Price has an average annual value (AAV) of $31M for the three years for a total of $93M. Sale’s contract is 5 years long with an AAV at $25.6M so the difference just in AAV alone is $5.4M less for the first 3 years. When it comes to Price the Dodgers would need to give up less talent than they’d need to give up for Sale.

Performance wise, Price is still pretty good but his velocity has gone from 94.3 MPH in 2017 down to 92 MPH in 2019. He still has about 8 MPH between his fastball and changeup. Below is a table of the last year years of both pitchers’ xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching):

Year Sale Price
2017 2.65 4.20
2018 2.31 3.95
2019 2.93 3.73

As a comparison, Walker Buehler had an xFIP of 3.37 and Clayton Kershaw‘s was 3.50 in 2019. Again, Price would be pretty good but Sale could be elite.

What Would It Take To Get Sale?

I believe the Dodgers would need to include a pitcher with a lot of upside. I think it needs to start with Julio Urías. The Dodgers rotation would again be left-handed heavy with Chris Sale so keeping Dustin May is important for the future. A playoff rotation that has a top 3 of Buehler, Sale and Kershaw with the option of Dustin May or Alex Wood for the 4th spot could be elite.

So far I have not included Mookie Betts in any talk yet. Personally, I just go after Sale with Urías as the starting point. If Betts is still the target then the Dodgers would be taking on $52.6M in salary if they don’t get any money back in the trade. If Sale is involved instead of Price then the Dodgers should not count on any money coming back. A trade of Urías, two more strong prospects and one non-minimum wage Major Leaguer plus a wild card or two might get it done. For just Sale it’s Urías and one strong prospect.

Final Thoughts

I believe that Mookie Betts would be an upgrade as he is a great player. My concern is he could be implicated in the cheating scandal and may have benefited greatly. At least, they are saying the Red Sox only cheated during the regular season and not the playoffs. Still, a player implicated in cheating having to face the Dodgers players doesn’t sound very good to me. Chris Sale, a pitcher, might not be as big of an issue.

After watching a lot of the 2019 playoffs i am convinced the Dodgers starting pitching staff is built for the regular season but not the playoffs. Some pitchers will be on an innings limit and it seems the staff is built for the 2021 playoffs. Chris Sale makes their playoff rotation, given the risks, possibly elite.

I want to see the Dodgers just trade for Sale which would allow the Red Sox to get under the luxury tax threshold without giving up Mookie Betts. Getting Sale could be their best chance at getting an ace-type pitcher in 2020. He makes the playoff rotation much stronger. What are your thoughts on the Dodgers/Red Sox trade rumors? What do you want to see happen?

Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. I’d start by saying I wouldn’t give up Urias in any trade unless it’s for deGrom. For Sale I’d be willing to give up maybe a Maeda, Ruiz, Kike and Gray. I’d rather hang onto Gray but think something like him would have to be included.

  2. Are you crazy. Urías for a Sale. As for pitching help I’d wait for the trade deadline in July. They need Mookie now for the regular season. There starting pitching is good enough for regular season. I’d wait for the trade deadline to strike for the starting pitching to help in the playoffs. There should be plenty of top pitchers available.

  3. Why trade these prospects? Especially for worn out tired pitchers. I vote to run with our prospects to begin the season and if it doesn’t work out then there always are deals to be made. Lets see what they can do. Just look at Will Smith and Matt Beaty for example.

    • Big W, my sentiments exactly. I would rather hold on to the young talent and also, just think that Chris Sale is good but over-rated. Dave Price seems to be hurt quite often and seems to have issues not easily understood by someone such as I.

  4. I wouldn’t give up anybody for sale,why pay 25 million for a over the hill pitcher,and you have got to be real stupid to trade Urias who’s the future ace come 2021 and only because Dodgers will limit his innings.He’s better than Buhler right now 2.49 era to Buhler over 3.00.Kershaw will still be the man this year winning 20 or 21,Urias will be next even with limited innings then May and Buhler.You obviously don’t know baseball or you’re.just a Julio hater.

    • Urias will never be an ace he’s our most overrated prospect. Just because everyone is saying he’s going to be great soon doesn’t make it true

      • I would trade Urias for Sale, if I had reasonable assurance of Sales elbow being healthy. I didn’t think Urias was as effective last year as he was in the years prior to the shoulder injury. I also don’t like the domestic violence thing. You don’t hit women. Ever. How much time should Urias be given to get back to where was. As far as I’m concerned, this year is critical for him. May and Gonsolin could easily pass him by this year. Josiah Gray could do the same next year. The Dodgers need a proven veteran 3 starter now if they want to have a shot at the World Series. Sales is better than Price, hands down.

      • Agreed. Urias can be seen as a long middle reliever, working up to a closer as he learns how to use the pitches he has. He will be good, just not as a regular starter for the foreseeable future.

  5. Sale currently has a limited No Trade Clause ( 3 teams – Unknown ), a $1 million Assignment Bonus if traded and an opt out after 2022.

    A good chunk of his yearly salary is deferred until 2035.

  6. Urias seems less a pitcher than before the surgery. He’s blown games as much as Kershaw and Jansen in big moments. Price isn’t worth the money and Sale’s elbow is troubling. Mookie Betts may be great, if not cheating aided, but one year and impending free agency makes him risky as far as trading away prospects to obtain him. Dodgers cannot bail Boston out unless their trade is transformative and impactful.

    • May and Gonsolin already rank ahead of Urias in my book, especially as starters. Urias may still establish himself. He’s still young. But he will have to prove that he isn’t damaged goods (shoulder). At least Sale has a history of proven excellence to go along with his questionable elbow. As the author points out, you don’t really need him until the postseason, when the rookies are tapped out. You could baby him until then.

  7. I wouldn’t trade Gonsolin.. He could be useful in the pen ( which still has some questions) or as a starter. Showed some good stuff last year. Stripling always seems to be erratic and wear out too soon. Wouldn’t mind Kike and Joc being traded. Also Maeda if they don’t restructure his contract to make him happier relieving. He is a much better reliever than starter, but is obviously not presently happy in that role.

    • No way I trade Urias or May for Sales. He is damaged goods, who knows how many inning he can pitch, and we are stuck with him for 5 years. Red Sox should give him away for nothing to get rid of salary, but I don’t know of any team that wants a player that may not play more then a handful of inning.. Hope the Dodgers learned not to give up good young pitchers Pedro Martinez is a perfect example – worst trade dodgers ever made!!

  8. IDK, but I still go after Betts, as he breaks up the LH hitting lineup somewhat. But to be honest I don’t believe ANY deal with Boston gets done, if for no other reason than the Red Sox want Dodgers to take on ALL of Price’s deal AND get top prospects in return even for a 1 year Betts rental.

  9. Can’t bet on Sale. Damaged goods for a healthy Urias, not good. Kiki is a sparkplug i.e. Bumgardner…. they need a third baseman and move Turner to 1st. Verdugo is ready, budding passionate star. Try Seager at 3rd and see if his arm is strong enough, Lux at short, see if he still has those throwing problems, Muncy at second. If you want to trade Verdugo for upside value, bring back Puig. He did hit like 23 or 27 hrs. He can be had on the cheap. Dont bet on Betts. 1 yr rental… no good.

  10. Can’t pay for past ability with tomorrow’s top tier talent. Sale is a bigger gamble than keeping Urias (who I’m no longer a fan of).

    Were there a pitcher to trade for out there I would target Clevenger again. He’s worth a young arm or two.

    BoSox are in a tight spot. I sense they are actually going to need to sell low. They are going to lose so many draft picks as well as see suspensions all over the field. It might be better for them to just retool now before the hammer falls?

    Article brought thought to mind about Betts, how involved was he in cheating? Or perhaps the cheating is why he wants out. The team is likely toast for a good 2yrs after penalties so why stay connected to that bad reputation? So many factors.

    Were i the Dodgers i wouldn’t be too aggressive in trading. Go for the fire sale that’s bound to start soon. No want Price at all, Sale not a good gamble given elbow issues. This time a trade with BoSox feels wrong. I like Bryant maybe, not Arenado (hard to want a guy who is basically trying to extort a trade just like NBA prima donnas.). Talent yes but not special outside Colorado.

    Betts would seem to look great in everyday Dodgers lineup though. And Bryant is problematic for pretty stacked IF already. So i guess find a deal for Betts and it either gets done or it doesn’t. Not sure an arm that seems to being on verge of falling off it worth the cost. Has to be other ways to get it done and not squander young talent that’s taken years to cultivate.

    Don’t listen to me, I’m just cranky about MLB in general these days. hhahaha

  11. Betts is a cheater so the Dodgers need to be careful. At least wait to find out what his involvement in the cheating scandal is. But why give up a lot for a cheater who is testing free agency next year.

  12. In 2019, the Red Sox franchise had an estimated value of 3.2 billion U.S. dollars. Principal owner John Henry’s net worth is 2.7 billion. Fire sale? Hilarious. Betts countered the RS extension proposal with 12/420. No thanks. The RS are rightly trying to extract max value from Betts whether on the field or in a trade, but if you’re expecting a fire sale in Boston where we dump Chris Sale while his value is at an all time low you need to get over it. It’s wish casting, not journalism.

    • Billionaires make all kinds of dumb sports decisions. Plus Sale still commands a hefty price. If Tom Brady might be let go by the Patriots. Chris Sale can be preyed away from the Red Sox.

  13. You really should sober up before writing your piece. Urias isn’t going anywhere especially for an injured old pitcher!

  14. It is not yet established that the Red Sox cheated, or cheated against the Dodgers. I would take that argument off the table.

    I do think that the key message of the article is questioning whether we need a position player or pitching. At the end of the disappointment with the Nationals last year, it felt more like we needed another ace than we did another bat. I think Dodgers management agreed with this as they made Cole and Strasburg targets.

    Any team gets better with Mookie Betts. If they get an ace, either now or at the trade deadline, it needs to be an ace, not just a backfill for Ryu. I question if that is Sale or Price.

    I hope they get Betts now and let’s see what we have in Urías, Gonsolin and May. It is very possible that there is an ace in the making right in that group.

  15. If you can get Sale you do it. The dodgers have played it safe and cheap over the years. But sure will spend a lot of money on injured bad players. Mcarthy and Kazmir. They wouldn’t spend money 80 million on Ryu? What are they saving all this money for? They’ll Probably trade away most of their talent before they can be free agents. The dodgers know they’ll most likely win the division so why go past the luxury threshold or spend big bucks on REAL quality players like Ryu? Or make trades for guys like Sale or Betts. Although Betts might be perfect. You only have to pay him for one year and then he disappears Stan Kasten and Friedman are a combined 1- 8 in the World Series. Friendman is getting paid like a man who is 8-1. We should move Urius and joc and a few more prospects for sale and Betts. We’ve been cheated out of a few World Series which is heartbreaking. Betts is partly responsible for that but now he can make amends a help finally bring a championship to the dodgers. But alas it won’t happen. It’s to risky or etc, etc.

  16. Methinks the Dodgers should sweeten the pot by including #11 AJ Pollock and Kyle Garlick. That should get the job done, All of this said the Dodgers aren’t making any trades just like they were the favorites to sign a number of top free agents and came up empty handed.

  17. At this point the Dodger dogs are a mess with 2 World Series title losses on home field in the last 3 years, and one one and done.

    Think you’re getting Mookie & Sale huh ? Lmfao….. You won’t even end up getting Mookie. The Red Sox will keep him until July and reevaluate… if they’re in it (which they will be) he goes nowhere at all. All of you media fools are going to look so awful when Mookie goes nowhere but to Fenway Park for 81 games. For months now it been every day that a Mookie trade is a foregone conclusion…. Until it Not. And it Never was.

  18. I would definitely give up Urias. He hasn’t pitched over 80 innings in a season, and I bet he won’t this year, either. He tires too easily. He’s been a mirage. He looked like he was gunna have ace starter stuff, but he either does what he did in the playoffs this last year, or he can only go for a few innings. I’m sure people want to try him for another year, but I expect him to underperform, not go deep into games, and/or get hurt.

  19. “I want to see the Dodgers just trade for Sale which would allow the Red Sox to get under the luxury tax threshold without giving up Mookie Betts.”

    Anyone understand why this point is significant for us to accomplish? Screw it all… keep everyone and see how much they improve/develop. Verdugo could become Betts this year! Betts and Verdugo have comparable numbers before Betts became Betts.

    • Imagine how good Verdugo would be if he knew if he was getting a fastball or an off-speed pitch they way Betts did?

  20. No, the prospect cost alone (not counting ready assets like Urias and Verdugo) would be too high for Betts/Sale. Betts/Price would essentially be a salary dump and the Dodgers could get it done with a pile of lower level assets. I still think that Price could be valuable in the future and if the cost is simply eating his contract, well, the Dodgers have plenty of money. Kasten himself says they are doing okay on that front.

  21. No, Betts/Sale is not worth the high level prospect cost (not counting ready assets like Urias/Verdugo). Since Betts/Price is simply a salary dump it can be made with a pile of lower level assets. All it would cost is money and that’s not a problem. The Dodgers have plenty of that, just ask Stan Kasten.

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