Don’t get me wrong: Chris Sale is truly one of the best pitchers in the game. With his 3.14 ERA and record of 14-3, he’s one of the most highly sought after pitchers at this year’s trade deadline — even after his most recent incident with his team, the Chicago White Sox.
But why? Why are teams willing to trade their entire future for a head-case like Sale? I fully grasp that Sale is an ace and a world-class pitcher. But as much as he wants to win, it’s clear that he doesn’t handle the front office and the business side of the league too well.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, here’s Sale’s most recent incident: last Saturday, Sale didn’t like the 1976 navy blue, collared throwback uniforms that his team was supposed to wear. But instead of understanding that sometimes in adult life we have to do things we don’t want to do, he proceeded to cut all of the jerseys so there was no way his team could wear them.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 26, 2016
According to ESPN, he got into a confrontation with a member of the White Sox’s front office and was sent home. The White Sox then gave him a five-game suspension.
“When I saw that there was something in the way of the 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue,” Sale told MLB.com. “I tried to bring it up and say, ‘Hey listen, these are my thoughts and concerns,’ and they got pushed away because of the business deal that was set in place. I’ll never understand why we need to do something on the business side on the field that might impede us winning a game.”
I completely understand the “winning over all” mentality; I also understand that the business aspect of things can be a nuisance.
But what Sale needs to understand is that Major League Baseball is a business. Going into 2016, MLB was approaching revenues of $9.5 billion. Sale can play baseball well into his thirties and possibly his early forties because it’s a business. Sale has at least one more year on his five-year, $32.5 million deal. By the time the deal ends, he will make between $14 million and $38 million, on top of the $20.4 million he has earned through this season. He will then hit free agency at age 30 (assuming both options are picked up) and be in line for another huge payday — and he will most definitely deserve that money.
However, if he’s going to piss and moan about the business aspect of the game, won’t that be a concern for the teams who are considering giving him all that money? I doubt that it will be the White Sox who he’ll be negotiating with, because, quite frankly, I think VP Ken Williams — himself headstrong and full of hubris — is sick of Sale’s antics.
This incident could end up costing Sale money in the biggest contract of his playing career. If he stays to the course of winning over everything, then he’ll take less money to play with a winning team, right?
At any rate, Sale’s most recent incident hurts the White Sox, and I think in the long run, it will hurt him.
Sale turning into Edward Scissorhands hurts his trade value. That could mean that instead of the White Sox getting five prospects for him in trade, they only get four. Some teams are stupid enough to throw their farm system at the ChiSox for Sale, but the smart ones will bring up Sale as a mental case and promptly have to pay less to get him.
When LeBron James blamed poor shooting on the sleeves on his jersey, people lashed out on him. I’m not one to defend James, but in retrospect, at least he wore the jersey and understood that the NBA is a business.
Sale should understand that same message.
It’s a bummer that sometimes the business aspect exceeds the game aspect. Sale should still understand that the business side pays for his contract and will enable him to break the bank in the next few years.
Nonetheless, Sale’s latest incident could hurt his trade value and should make teams wary about his rebellious mentality.
If Sale stays in Chicago any longer, the next we’ll see is him dumping bad Gatorade into the harbors of Lake Michigan.