"We're mired in mediocrity," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Thursday. "That's not the goal. That's not acceptable. That's not what we're trying to accomplish for the long-term. We may well have to adjust and take a longer-term view and take a different approach going forward."
The White Sox may go into a rebuilding mode, but Sale is pretty substantial piece to rebuild around rather than trade.
"We've got to stay open-minded," Hahn said. "We're not where we want to be. We've spent a fair amount of time focusing on the [current season] for the last few years, and it hasn't paid off as handsomely as we hoped."
Texas GM Jon Daniels said the club's primary focus is pitching, but he declined to discuss specifics on Friday. One source said the Rangers -- because of their strong farm system -- have as good of a chance as anybody to land Sale.
"I don't want to evaluate the market," Daniels said. "It's no different than any other year. We are having conversations to see if we line up. I can't handicap it."
The White Sox, as are most potential trading partners, are primarily interested in Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar and Triple-A third baseman Joey Gallo, the club's No. 1 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. Profar is playing regularly for the Rangers with Prince Fielder sidelined by a herniated disk in his neck.
The Rangers are also not enamored with the idea of trading Gallo, not with Fielder looking at another neck surgery, Shin-Soo Choo on the disabled list for the third time this season and first baseman Mitch Moreland a free agent after this season. But nobody is considered untouchable.
"I don't know of a player in the game who is," Daniels said. "There are a lot of players we're not looking to move and a lot of players other clubs are not looking to move. In the right scenario, anything can happen. We know how we value certain guys. If something lines up, we'll move."
The Rangers are focused on pitching as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches and haven't been too excited with the pitching available. But Sale is an AL Cy Young Award candidate and could have the same impact as Cole Hamels did last season and Cliff Lee did in 2010.
The Rangers have talked to any team with pitching available. They have been linked with the Rays concerning right-hander Jake Odorizzi and left-hander Matt Moore, but those discussions haven't been fruitful and may get put on hold until the Rangers know if the White Sox are dealing Sale.
Texas is without right-hander Colby Lewis and left-hander Derek Holland, both of whom are on the 60-day disabled list and ineligible to return until late August. Kyle Lohse is the club's fifth starter and is scheduled to pitch on Monday against the Athletics.
"We'll continue to evaluate that as we go forward," manager Jeff Banister said. "We're looking at all options. At this point, Kyle Lohse is the pitcher of record in that slot. We'll see what our best option is."
The Rangers entered Friday 36-14 when they get an official "quality start" from their rotation. They have had just two in the last 18 games.
"That's our No. 1 ingredient for success," Banister said. "Quality starting rotation and quality starts."
• Texas may move left-hander Martin Perez up to Monday and push Lohse back to Tuesday. The Rangers like the idea of Perez pitching between A.J. Griffin and Lohse.
• Fielder was scheduled get a second opinion on his neck from Dr. Drew Dossett in Dallas on Friday, but that has been postponed until Monday. Fielder is expected to decide after that exam if he needs season-ending surgery.
• Holland has joined the Rangers in Kansas City and is expected to throw his first bullpen session on Saturday since being placed on the disabled list on June 21.