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Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals Join Chris Sale Sweepstakes

Chicago White Sox' pitcher Chris Sale is among MLB's elite starting arms and the White Sox are in rebuilding mode, so could Sale be moved with rumors circling around the league?

You could say now that the hot stove is getting hotter as we get closer to MLB's Winter Meetings, which takes place December 4th-8th in National Harbor, Maryland. Chicago White Sox' left-handed starter Chris Sale is back in the trade rumors yet again, but are the White Sox serious this time? 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweeted earlier today that the Atlanta Braves are among the most interested in Sale and would be a perfect fit, noting that the Braves have enough minor-league talent to send back to the south side. 

https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/798505225766178816

The Washington Nationals have also inquired about Chris Sale, but the Chicago White Sox have not had any “serious talks” with any team regarding the ace left-hander, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. 

The Nationals, like the Braves, have a stacked farm system and a deal surrounding starter Lucas Giolito as well as others could very well interest Sox GM Rick Hahn enough for him to pull the trigger. 

There were non-baseball related issues that went on involving Sale starting with the retirement of first baseman Adam LaRoche in the middle of spring training. LaRoche was told by Executive VP Williams that his son Drake was no longer able to be in the clubhouse on a everyday basis. This sparked the White Sox clubhouse in an all out fury on Williams lead by Sale calling him a 'bold-faced liar'. The other tirade was Sale ripping and cutting up Chicago's uniforms prior to a July regular season game. He was sent home by the front office, and reportedly he was so mad he had to wear the collared throwback jerseys because they were too uncomfortable to pitch in. 

While the outcome of Chicago's season didn't satisfy many, it is easy to forget that the team started out 17-8 in April. And, with the right additions, its not difficult to imagine the White Sox being a contender in the AL Central—at least for a Wild Card spot. Without Sale on the roster in 2017, that case becomes a lot harder to make. 

The White Sox have failed to win more than 78 games in any of the past four seasons, but Sale has undoubtedly done his part since he has made his debut. Named an all-star the past five seasons, Sale went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA, while striking out 233 hitters in 226 and 2/3 innings pitched. With a very weak class of free-agent starters available this winter, Chicago could accelerate that process by dealing the 27-year-old Sale or veteran starter Jose Quintana.

There is still time for a deal to be made in the distant future as Sale has a team-friendly contract that pays him $21.15 million over two years, with two option years exceeding at $12.5 and $13.5 million. However, if the right pieces are proposed to the White Sox in return for Chris Sale, I expect him to be wearing a different uniform come mid-February. 

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