"It's a build to me and it's always a build. Every year it's a build. The names change, but my job and their jobs don't change," said the White Sox pitching coach during a conversation with MLB.com. "So, I'm excited about the people we got back and the prospects of us doing this build, getting it done, getting back where we all want to be, and that's a process.
"Listen, again on the one hand, I'm disappointed that Chris is gone. But it simply had to happen. We had to make a move."
Cooper witnessed pretty much every pitch thrown by Sale from the time he reached the Majors as a reliever in 2010 two months after he was selected 13th overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. Sale stood as an All-Star for all five seasons spent as a starter and a Top 6 finisher in the American League Cy Young Award voting in each of those years.
The new names for Cooper to focus upon include Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz, who came over from Boston in the Sale deal, and Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, who were acquired from Washington in the Adam Eaton trade. They represent more of the future than the immediate present, while Sale falls as not only a part of the past, but a part of franchise history.
"Chris Sale is adding year after year after year of quality Hall of Fame-like numbers," said Cooper of Sale, who posted a 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and 1,244 strikeouts in 1,110 innings on seven non-playoff teams. "If he does that for another five or six years, he's going to be a guy that is going to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
"I love the guy. I had the best seat in the house to watch one of the best pitchers pitch every five or six days. I had a real nice conversation with Chris the day after it shook out. I have nothing but good thoughts about Chris Sale's tenure. I have nothing but best wishes for him."
Not being able to win with Sale and Jose Quintana atop of the rotation stands as one of Cooper's regrets. But Cooper has been doing this job long enough to know even the best players change uniforms and teams change directions.
"Every single day I go to the ballpark, I want to win. I'm constantly looking for little ways, little things, little edges, that might help us win that game," Cooper said. "At the end of the day when we win, there's no feeling like it. If we lose, it's the other end of that spectrum.
"I'm still going to be coming to the ballpark every single day thinking the same thing. Our cast of characters have changed a little bit, but I've got to be focused on our staff, the guys that I have, not the people that I don't.
"You never know. Things can change, too," Cooper said. "Maybe one day [Sale] will come back. Crazy stuff happens in baseball. It is what it is and I'm excited about it."