NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. - Late Monday night, it looked like the Washington Nationals might make a splash as the host city of the 2016 MLB Winter Winter Meetings, with the buzz around the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center that the Nationals were on the verge of acquiring Chicago White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale.
Then it didn’t happen.
As the night went on without a deal and nothing happened Tuesday morning, reports began to emerge that said the Boston Red Sox were once again involved in talks for the White Sox’ left hander and this afternoon they struck a deal.
Boston sent a package of four prospects — headlined by Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the top infield and pitching prospect in the organization — to Chicago.
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo was reportedly willing to offer the Nats’ top pitching prospect (Lucas Giolito) and outfield prospect (Victor Robles) in return for Sale, but in the end it wasn’t enough to get the starter.
“We put a lot of effort into it and thought we made a good, valiant effort at acquiring a really good pitcher and we fell short,” Rizzo said.
“We feel good about the players that we kept in not doing a Sale deal, but obviously a great pitcher went over to the Red Sox.”
As Rizzo explained this afternoon, in a conversation with reporters, the opportunity to add a unique, controllable talent like Sale was what drove the effort more than a need in the Nationals’ rotation.
“The caliber of pitcher available isn’t often [bandied] in the trade market,” he said.
“He was a quality pitcher so you’re going to have to give up quality to get him and it was a move that you have three years of control of a really good pitcher so you’re going to have to give up a lot for him and we felt that we reached as far as we were going to reach in the trade and we fell short.”
“Chris Sale is a player that improves any club so it was more about the player that was available than a position of need,” he continued.
“It was a unique opportunity to get an elite pitcher so we dove into it and now we’ll put our attention on something else.”
The talks with the White Sox, Rizzo said, were ongoing before the Winter Meetings got underway this week.
“We started before the meetings here, we’ve been engaged with them for a couple weeks informally and then it ratcheted up right before the meetings and obviously continued through it,” he explained.
Was he aware that the Red Sox were conducting simultaneous negotiations as he tried to strike a deal?
“You do your due diligence,” he said.
“You have your operatives out in the lobby and we hear a lot of things and we gather a lot of information and it’s really, you have to do what’s best for you regardless of who is in the mix and we felt we did that and like I said, we put together a nice package for a great pitcher and didn’t get the player.”