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Chris Sale traded to Red Sox

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In this Monday, July 18, 2016, file photo, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale throws to a Seattle Mariners batter during a baseball game in Seattle. It was announced Tuesday that the left-hander is headed to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for infielder Yoan Moncada and three prospects. In this Monday, July 18, 2016, file photo, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale throws to a Seattle Mariners batter during a baseball game in Seattle. It was announced Tuesday that the left-hander is headed to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for infielder Yoan Moncada and three prospects. (AP file photo/Ted S. Warren)

Boston sends Moncada, three other prospects to Chicago

The Boston Red Sox have acquired star left-handed starter Chris Sale in a trade from the Chicago White Sox.

According to the terms, Boston received Sale in exchange for a package of four prospects. Infielder Yoan Moncada, a 21-year-old considered by most to be a top-five prospect in all of baseball, is the centerpiece of the White Sox haul. Also included are minor-league pitchers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz and infielder Luis Basabe.

Sale has been one of the most coveted targets at this year’s winter meetings, with numerous teams expressing high levels of interest in the pitcher.

It’s no surprise considering the 27-year-old’s resume. Sale has been an All-Star in each of his five full seasons as a starter; he has finished no lower than sixth in Cy Young Award balloting over that span. He sports a record of 74-50 for his career – including 17 wins in 2016 - with 70 of those wins coming in his 148 starts. His career ERA sits at an even 3.00 and he has averaged more than a strikeout per inning, striking out 1,244 in 1,110 career innings.

He’s also one of the most affordable ace-type starters out there, with a contract that includes a $12 million salary for 2017 and team options for $12.5 and $13.5 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

This deal gives the Red Sox perhaps the most formidable rotation in the American League, with Sale joining David Price and reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Those three – along with 2016 All-Star knuckleballer Steven Wright – go a long way toward making Boston a postseason favorite.

But Sale didn’t come cheap.

Yoan Moncada is the shiniest jewel that Chicago takes from this trade. Moncada is just 21 years old, a prospect with massive athletic skills that projects to play almost anywhere on the diamond. He struggled a bit in his very brief call-up to Boston this season - .211/.250/.263 – but that was over a scant 20 plate appearances. While he’s done most of his work in the low-to-mid minors thus far, the general consensus is that he has the potential to be legitimately great.

Michael Kopech is another youngster – just 20 years old – but he’s shown flashes of big-time potential as well. His fastball sits comfortably in the high 90s with the ability to occasionally touch triple digits. In a dozen 2016 starts across two teams in A-Ball, Kopech struck out 86 batters in just 56 innings. His slider and change-up are works in progress, but both show the possibility of being plus pitches.

And the other prospects included in the deal are more than just throw-ins. Luis Basabe, a middle infielder with great speed and decent pop, just played his first season in A-Ball as a 19-year-old. He’s got some great tools, but he remains raw; his lack of plate discipline leads to a ton of strikeouts. And while Victor Diaz managed just mediocre results in his second professional season, he’s still just 22 and has a 100-mph fastball.

Considering the “aceless” rotation that the Red Sox trotted out just a couple of years ago, the turnaround is remarkable. And despite the fact that Price is working on a $217 million contract and Porcello is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Chris Sale might now be the best starter on the Boston roster.

As far as the White Sox are concerned, well…Sale was going to get moved. And there were a lot of suitors. But considering the quality of prospects Chicago received from Boston, it’s hard to imagine that they were going to find a better deal. Moncada could well be a superstar in the making, while Kopech could turn out to be a solid big-league starter or better. And if either Basabe or Diaz make the leap, the other Sox are looking at a king’s ransom.

It’s the sort of deal where the winners and losers probably won’t be apparent for a while, but as of now, it looks like the Red Sox are poised to win now and the White Sox have landed a solid foundation for a quality rebuild.

Long story short – that stove is hot. Really hot.

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