The Nationals continue to be involved in trade talks for White Sox ace Chris Sale, as well as for Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, sources told FOX Sports on Saturday.
Several other teams, meanwhile, might still be interested in Sale, but only if the White Sox are willing to lower their asking price. According to the FOX Sports report, the Red Sox are open to a trade for the left-hander, but not for what it would currently take to land him. The Astros and Rangers are out on Sale at the current asking price, per the report, and the Dodgers are focusing on free-agent signings over trades, while the Braves are still in the mix.
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MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman reported Friday that the Nationals, Astros, Red Sox, Rangers and Braves were "starting to separate themselves at the forefront" of the trade talks for Sale. But an executive from one of those five teams told Heyman that "the asking price is so high, it's hard to imagine he's getting traded."
The 27-year-old left-hander has been an All-Star for the past five seasons, all as a starting pitcher, posting a 3.04 ERA in that span, while averaging 227 strikeouts per season, including an American League-leading 274 in 2015. Heyman also reported that the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Giants looked to be "on the periphery" of Sale trade talks.
A very high price is being asked for Sale by the White Sox, and understandably so. Along with his Cy Young-level statistics, Sale also has three years remaining on his contract, with team options for '18 and '19 at $12.5 million and $13.5 million, respectively, with a $1 million buyout.
It's unlikely the White Sox will drop their asking price significantly, especially at the top of the deal, because the team does not need to trade its ace. It's thought that the South Siders are embarking on a rebuild after being "mired in mediocrity" for too long, per general manager Rick Hahn. But nothing officially has been said by the team.
Sale isn't the only White Sox player who could be moved this offseason. With the Winter Meetings set to begin Monday, players like outfielder Adam Eaton and first baseman Jose Abreu could also be trade targets. A rival executive told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that Eaton seems more likely to be traded during the Winter Meetings than Abreu.
Eaton is under contract through 2021 with team options for '20 and '21. He could be a player turned to by teams who are unable to pick up an outfield upgrade through the free-agent market.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com.
MLB.com reporter Scott Merkin contributed to this report.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.