There's nothing worse than fake trades. And the cousin of the fake trade is the "Who says no?" hypothetical trade. The dirty, obnoxious cousin who no one likes. I did one about Elvis Andrus and Matt Kemp last week, and even though it was based on an actual rumor, I still took a shower right after. No one likes the "Who says no?" game.
Lucky for you, though, I don't have standards. And a couple of weeks ago, people across the SB Nation network did some light LARPing and pretended to be GMs for Royals Review's annual Winter Meetings simulation. Thirty people, 30 teams, each of them looking to have the best mock offseason they possibly could.
One of the first trades that came across the wire:
Chris Sale to the Dodgers for Yasiel Puig
Oh, man, it's so stupid. So unrealistic. So oddly compelling. Two weeks later, and I can't stop thinking about it. Because while my first instinct was "I hate this trade," I couldn't express why I hated it. Or for whom the trade was a complete disaster. Or who would, wait for it, say no.
It's therapy, then, to write about this. Let's examine why either team would rather have the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
Why the White Sox would rather have Puig than Sale
The White Sox aren't worried about Sale. Even after Sale had a tender elbow in 2012, the Sox still gave him an extension years before they needed to. It looks like an extremely team-friendly contract now, and it probably will in three or four years, too.
But have you watched the guy pitch? A GIF of Sale's pitching motion:
And a video:
He's great, undeniably great. But he's different. Different enough to scare me. What is that pitch? How is that possible? Isn't Torii Hunter kind of good? Doesn't it hurt to throw a slider like that? It's the kind of pitch that makes you spout rhetorical questions.
Forget that Sale's motion is like a fork in blender. Forget that he had elbow tenderness in 2012 that made the White Sox put him in the bullpen, and forget that he missed a start this year with shoulder soreness. Just think about him as a pitcher.
Pitchers get hurt. They aren't meant to do what they do. If you have the choice between the young starting pitcher and the young, five-tool slugger, you go with the latter. Here the White Sox have one of the best young pitchers in baseball, someone who could be a perennial Cy Young contender, and he's signed through 2017 for $32.5 million, with two team options after that. Would they give that up for a dynamic, cost-controlled hitter?
They would have to consider it, I'd think. It's not that Sale is thin and unorthodox, it's that he's thin and unorthodox. The main point, though, is that all pitchers are risky. Both Puig and Sale are rare specimens. But I like the odds of the hitter just a touch more.
Why the Dodgers would rather have Sale than Puig
First, the practical: The Dodgers have four outfielders under contract over the next several years. One of them has to go. But only one of them would bring a young, cost-controlled ace back. Everyone likes aces, alright.
Second, the concern-trolling: Maybe the Dodgers really are concerned with Puig's … lack of subtlety. Don't make me go one-sentence paragraphs on you to drive it home. What I see from the outside is a young player who will eventually reconcile his exuberance and confidence with his talent. But maybe -- maybe! -- the Dodgers are privately saying "uh-oh," just like the one-sentence-paragraphers would have you believe.
Third, Sale's contract is ludicrously team-friendly. You might think that wouldn't mean as much to the Dodgers, but even they have limits. They aren't going to have a $300 million payroll this year. At some point, they'll stop spending every year. Sale will, for the next four to six years, help the Dodgers stop spending later in the offseason. The same applies for Puig, sure, but Sale comes for an extra year if the Dodgers want to pick up the 2019 option. If the Dodgers would even consider trading a team-friendly contract like Puig's, they'd need someone like Sale back.
Fourth, more concern-trolling: If you're worried about Sale's health, what about the health of a player who isn't afraid to run straight through a wall, like Puig? His reckless abandon makes him one of the funnest baseball players to watch, but there's something about that reckless abandon that concerns me. It's kind of reckless.
Part of me doesn't want to decide. But there's no point in writing a "Who says no?" article without revealing who says no. And here, the Dodgers say no. Puig is already a cult hero. That's the tiebreaker. We're talking about two fantastic young players with bright futures and team-friendly contracts, but I want to watch the 30 for 30 for only one of them. Or, for that matter, I would watch one of them mow his lawn. Or do his taxes. When Puig does his taxes, he ends up with six envelopes stuck to him, a flooded post office and a return of $6 million. The Dodgers would have to be secretly terrified of that reckless abandon to give that up, more so than we can possibly imagine. I don't think they are.
That does it for this episode of "Who says no?," and I hope it was as awful as you expected. My only regret is that I couldn't squeeze in the image of Sale hitting Puig with a pitch, and Puig charging the mound and using Sale as a scimitar to ward the other players away. Maybe next time.
For White Sox fans who will yell at you for suggesting Chris Sale in a trade, please visit South Side Sox
For Dodgers fans who will yell at you for suggesting Yasiel Puig in a trade, please visit True Blue LA