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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:

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.