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BLOCKBUSTER: Chris Sale traded to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, prospects

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OXON HILL, MD — A huge trade just went down between the Red Sox and White Sox. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Red Sox have acquired White Sox starter Chris Sale in exchange for top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michel Kopech, along with two other prospects: Victor Diaz, a single-A pitcher and Luis Basabe, a middle infielder from the same level.

The Red Sox’ acquisition of Sale comes after days of buildup and speculation that the Nationals would acquire the ace lefty. Nope: he’s Boston bound.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

Which is why Boston is giving up a hefty load of prospects to get him. Moncada slumped after a callup to Boston late last season, but he was ranked the number one prospect by Baseball America in its midseason prospect evaluations. The infielder, who has played second and third base, is 21 and hit a combined .294/.407/.511 with 15 homers, 62 RBIs and 45 stolen bases over 106 games in high Class A and Double-A last year.

Kopech, 20, was the Sox’ first round pick in the 2014 draft, going 33rd overall. The righty topped out at high-A ball last season, posting a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts and striking out an astounding 82 batters in 52 innings. He has velocity out the yang — he reached 105 m.p.h. in a minor league game last season — but ran into some off-the-field trouble last year, fracturing his hand in a fight with a teammate last March. In 2015 he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a stimulant.

The White Sox trade of Sale is inspired by a number of factors. The largest, of course, being the club’s continued sputtering despite several seasons in a row of loading up on veterans for a playoff run that never materialized. With the club now committed to rebuilding, Sale was the most attractive player they could market given his talent, age and team-friendly contract. It’s also worth noting that Sale clashed with White Sox brass on a number of occasions last year, vocally opposing the team’s handling of the Adam and Drake LaRoche Affair and, later in the season, getting suspended after he took a blade to the club’s throwback uniforms before a game, shredding them because did not want to wear them. Because, he said, they itched. So, OK.

For the Red Sox part: they’re going for it once again, with Dave Dombrowski doing what he always seems to do: make blockbuster trades.

UPDATES:

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.

 

Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had a brutal collision in right center field

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The score was tied in the top of the 10th inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yadier Molina was up to bat, facing Kenley Jansen and drove one to deep right center field.

Yasiel Puig was in full run for the ball as center fielder Joc Pederson ranged hard for it himself. Puig caught the ball, but not before slamming into Pederson. Both men went down, but Pederson went down harder, taking an elbow to the face from Puig before crashing head-first into the outfield wall.

Watch:

 

Pederson came out of the game, apparently bleeding from his head. There will be an update on his condition today.

UPDATE: Oops, there was an update last night: