Trading Sale, Quintana not crucial for White Sox rebuild

Trading Sale, Quintana not crucial for White Sox rebuild

CHICAGO -- Trading Chris Sale and/or Jose Quintana seems to be an assumption built into the strong possibility of an upcoming White Sox rebuild.

It's a fairly safe assumption, of course.

Sale falls under affordable team control through 2019 with two team options, while Quintana could remain part of the White Sox through '20 with two team options of his own. They stand as two of the game's best starting pitchers, becoming potential market targets among a perceived weak free-agent class of starters.

But the White Sox don't have to trade either of these talented left-handers, even if the focus is on the future. In fact, they could rebuild and keep intact one of the more competitive front three, rotation-wise, in all of baseball via Sale, Quintana and Carlos Rodon.

Position players such as first baseman Jose Abreu, third baseman Todd Frazier, right fielder Adam Eaton, left fielder Melky Cabrera and relievers like David Robertson, Nate Jones and Dan Jennings figure to attract varying level of interest across the game. Moving some from this group would give the White Sox a decent return of youth while not dismantling the team in 2017.

Quintana's brilliant start

The rebuild needs to have a full commitment from the White Sox to be effective, but it doesn't need to take place entirely from November through February. Chicago could still make moves leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline if the situation dictates.

One of the most prevalent comments coming in the next month or so figures to be "Team A or Team B has talked to the White Sox about Sale or Quintana." Organizations not necessarily in line for immediate contention would be right in talking with the White Sox on one or both pitchers if they have the near Major League-ready elite talent for a return.

There's little doubt a trade involving Sale or Quintana would bring back the most significant haul. If the White Sox were to trade both All-Stars, they could turn around the franchise maybe even quicker than expected and start to build toward years of sustained success, which is a goal espoused numerous times by general manager Rick Hahn.

With the team certainly not forced to trade either one of these hurlers, the White Sox have to get exactly what they request and not a player less. That level of uncertainty in the offers for any of these current White Sox stands as one of the reasons why Hahn and the team won't flatly state they are in a rebuild.

This process involving Sale and Quintana probably won't play out overnight, not with so many teams having interest. It ultimately might not happen at all during the offseason.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.