NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Perhaps the biggest name being bandied about since the Winter Meetings began, left-handed ace Chris Sale, has been dealt to the Red Sox. To get the five-time All-Star, Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombowski had to seriously raid the prospect cupboard, dealing four of the organization's Top 30 to the White Sox.
The headliner of those four, of course, is No. 1 overall prospect Yoan Moncada. Signed two months shy of his 20th birthday, Moncada received $31.5 million to sign out of Cuba, a record bonus for an amateur player. That blew past the Red Sox's international pool, forcing them to pay an additional $31.5 million in penalties.
After starting his pro career a bit slowly, the infielder really showed off his incredible tools in 2016, starting the year in the Class A Advanced Carolina League and finishing it in the Majors. Compared to Robinson Cano but with more speed, he can hit for average and power from both sides of the plate. Moncada showed he can use his plus speed on the basepaths, swiping 45 bags this season. A Futures Game participant last July, Moncada has 20-20 potential as he continues to learn to add loft to his swing.
There has been a little more debate about where Moncada fits defensively. He played second base during his time in the Minors with Boston, then moved to third when the Red Sox needed him to fill a hole at the big league level. He was slated to see a lot of time at the hot corner in the Arizona Fall League, but a thumb injury cut that short after just six games. It will be a short-lived experiment as the White Sox plan to have Moncada go back to second base full-time, which will mean finding a new home for Brett Lawrie.
Michael Kopech is prospect 1A in this deal. The hard-throwing right-hander ranked fifth in the Red Sox's midseason Top 30 and No. 67 overall. Especially after his AFL performance, he moved up to No. 30 overall and is second on the White Sox's Top 30, just behind Moncada.
There has never been any question about Kopech's stuff, starting with the 2014 first-round pick's plus-plus fastball that consistently touches triple digits, sits comfortably in the 95-97 mph range and has nasty movement. He complements that unhittable pitch with a low-90s slider that can make hitters look equally bad. That two-pitch combination is enough to get any hitter out, but the 20-year-old also has a changeup that has the chance to be a Major League-average offering as well. Kopech misses a ton of bats -- he struck out 13.7 per nine innings in 2016 -- and generated a ton of weak contact (.156 batting average against).
Two things have held Kopech back in the early stages of his career. The first is on the mound: his command. Kopech walked 5.3 batters per nine frames this past season and 4.6 in his career since being drafted out of the Texas high school ranks. The other has been off the mound in terms of his makeup. He received a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance late in 2015, then broke his pitching hand in a fight with a teammate in Spring Training.
If his performance in the AFL is any indication, Kopech might be poised to vastly improve in both of those areas. He walked 3.22 batters per nine frames in his time there while striking out 26 in 22 1/3 innings. All reports were positive on how he went about his business pitching for the Surprise Saguaros. He has yet to pitch above the Class A Advanced level, but if he can continue to throw strikes at that rate with his stuff, he could be ready to start reaching his ceiling as a top-of-the-rotation starter at some point in 2018.
Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz may forever be known as the "other two guys" in the Sale trade, but they bring considerable value to the table as well. Basabe was No. 8 on the Red Sox's midseason list and will come in at No. 7 on the White Sox's Top 30.
Basabe turned 20 in late August, and the switch-hitting center fielder has all five tools at his disposal. They're raw and in the developmental stage, but if it all clicks, he could eventually be a dynamic offensive presence and can stick in center, though he has the arm strength to play right. He's also the second Basabe to be traded by the Red Sox: His twin, Luis Alejandro, was sent to the D-backs in the Brad Ziegler trade in July.
Diaz, No. 28 at the time of the trade on the Red Sox's list and will be No. 29 with the White Sox, is all about arm strength. Like Kopech, he can regularly top 100 mph on the radar gun and will sit in the 95-98 mph range. The late life gets swings and misses -- he has struck out 9.5 per nine in his career and 9.4 in 2016 after making the jump from the Dominican Summer League to the full-season South Atlantic League. He also gets ground-ball outs, with a 1.95 groundout-to-flyout ratio last season. The 22-year-old also has a splitter and a slider, both of which show glimpses of being outstanding secondary offerings. With major effort in his delivery and resulting command issues (4 BB/9), Diaz profiles as a reliever. If it all clicks, White Sox fans could one day see him pitching at the end of games.