The Case for Trading Julio Urias for Chris Sale

Rumors began to swirl Monday afternoon revolving around Dodgers top pitching prospect, Julio Urias and it has all of Dodgers Nation buzzing about the potential moves coming. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Dodgers reportedly are willing to include Urias in a trade package that would land them White Sox’s ace, Chris Sale.

Neither club has confirmed that either player is available before the August 1st deadline, but given the Dodgers farm system, if the White Sox general manager, Rick Hahn would even consider trading Sale it’s in his best interest to keep Friedman’s number close. Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked Chicago’s farm system 23rd out of the 30 MLB teams. 


To hear Urias’ name come up in trade rumors now that he’s made his major league debut is somewhat surprising given the fact that the Dodgers front office has been reluctant to part ways with any of their top prospects since Friedman took over in 2014. Every move the front office has made to this point has been to build the depth of their farm system and a move of this caliber would certainly consist of the Dodgers giving up a few of their top prospects for the services of Sale.

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Should these rumors be true, this tells us one thing — the Dodgers are finally back at that “win now” now stage that they were in back in 2012 when they traded for for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Shane Victorino, and Hanley Ramirez all within the same trade deadline. I know what you may want to say — “Well look at how that worked out. What did we get out of it?” Well, the truth is the Dodgers didn’t give up much (Ruby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands were the big prospect names that stand out). The 2012 trade deadline was a gamble of taking on horrifically bad contracts to signify the new ownership and an effort to compete right away, and compete they did, the Dodgers have made 3 straight playoff appearances since then.

This Sale – Urias [hypothetical] trade would differ from the 2012 trades because it would mean trading away the depth the front office has worked hard to create for players in attempt to help make the team a legitimate World Series contender. I’ll weigh in on why the Dodgers should make the trade for Sale even if Urias is the centerpiece of the deal.  

  1. The Value of Chris Sale.

Chris Sale is in his seventh season with the White Sox. Having pitched out of the bullpen his first two season, his workload has been limited compared to other 27 year-old left handers in the league. Chris Sale has pitched just over 1000 innings in his career including two seasons eclipsing the 200 innings mark and posting an era under 3.0. The five-time all-star owns a career 2.95 era with a 4 2/3 strikeout to walk ratio.

[graphiq id=”5C5fTk9cnVb” title=”Chris Sale Career Pitching” width=”600″ height=”421″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/5C5fTk9cnVb” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/14357/Chris-Sale” link_text=”Chris Sale Career Pitching | PointAfter” ]

Since joining the White Sox rotation in 2012, Sale ranks 4th in the league in WAR (Wins Above Replacement), ranking only behind Kershaw, Scherzer and Price. If you’re not familiar with the WAR stat, essentially it measures how much better a player is than a player that would typically replace him should he be unavailable, but in short — he’s good.

[graphiq  id=”9JAqWcBtOsJ” title=”Chris Sale Wins Above Replacement (WAR) by Season” width=”600″ height=”400″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/9JAqWcBtOsJ” link_text=”Chris Sale Wins Above Replacement (WAR) by Season | PointAfter” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/14357/Chris-Sale#value&s=2mBxDh”]

On top of Sale’s recent performance, his contract makes his performance stand out even more than being compared to Kershaw. Sale is technically under contract through next season, but his contract has a two-year team option at the back end of the deal. Meaning that if Sale we’re to get injured or suddenly become unproductive, the Dodgers could cut him after a 1 million dollar buyout. But the Dodgers would have control through 2019. By trading for Sale, the Dodgers would get the prime years of a talented left-hander while assuming little, close to none of the risk (except trading away some highly touted prospects).

[graphiq id=”3nGCkbjIhil” title=”Chris Sale Career Salary vs. WAR” width=”640″ height=”524″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/3nGCkbjIhil” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/14357/Chris-Sale” link_text=”Chris Sale Career Salary vs. WAR | PointAfter” ]
  1. The Need for a 1-2 Punch.

Assuming Kershaw is able to return from the DL in the foreseeable future, the need for a solid 1-2 punch to have success in the postseason is vital. Currently the Dodgers stand in the first wild card spot, meaning the Dodgers would pitch Kershaw in an elimination one-game series. Should the Dodgers win the one game play in, the Dodgers would be in a uphill battle against the NL’s best team. Looking at the teams in the running for the postseason, you can’t help but notice the top teams have two top tier starting pitchers. Cubs (Arrieta and Lester), Giants (Bumgarner and Cueto), Nationals (Scherzer and Strasburg), and Mets (Syndergard and DeGram). Not to discredit what Maeda or McCarthy have done this season but the Dodgers would be in a better position throwing a quality arm like Sale against anyone of those opposing team’s ace.

  1. Long Term Solution.

If the Dodgers have made anything clear the first two season with Friedman as GM is that they will not overpay for “rental players.” Sale’s team-controlled contract is the exact opposite of that. Should the Dodgers give up a substantial amount of prospects in a trade, Sale would be with the Dodgers for the next three seasons before becoming a free agent. Sale would fill the void the Dodgers were unable to fill this offseason when Grienkie signed with Arizona.

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By trading for Sale they will also have the pitching flexibility to trade one of their mid-tier starting pitchers (Anderson, Wood, Kazmir) to reinforce their farm system after trading for Sale. Since the starting pitcher market will be scarce this upcoming offseason, the Dodgers may be able to get some decent prospect back by making a trade during the winter meetings.

  1. The Uncertainty of Urias

We all saw how polarizing Urias was when he was called up back in May. Dodger players referred to it as Uriasmania while Dodger legends like Vin Scully and Fernando Valenzuela embraced the organizational moment. Whether it was the unfair expectations or the anticlimactic debut, Urias was far from productive for the Dodgers this season. Not to knock on the 19 year-old kid but Urias continuously struggled with his command and failed to pitch 6 innings in eight of his nine starts.

[graphiq id=”8DnZGP1FX7v” title=”Julio Urias 2016 Complete Pitching Splits” width=”600″ height=”762″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/8DnZGP1FX7v” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/401618/Julio-Urias” link_text=”Julio Urias 2016 Complete Pitching Splits | PointAfter” ] [graphiq id=”iW8Wj1anwtn” title=”Julio Urias 2016 Monthly Pitching Splits” width=”600″ height=”494″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/iW8Wj1anwtn” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/401618/Julio-Urias” link_text=”Julio Urias 2016 Monthly Pitching Splits | PointAfter” ]

Urias showed signs of electric stuff and great resilience through his first professional starts so it’s easy to see where the hype generated from. He had an impressive 10.71 K/9 ratio in nine starts.

But with that, what are realistic expectations we can project for the young prospect? The comparisons to Valenzuela seem natural, both are undersized left-handers discovered by Mike Brito out of Mexico and both made their debut at age 19. But would it be fair to call Urias the next Valenzuela?–  If so, judging how Valenzuela’s career regressed on the tail end of his career, is that an ideal career to protect? — The argument I’m trying to make here is that we can’t be certain Urias would meet or even surpass  his potential when it’s all said and done. If the Dodgers and White Sox were to come an agreement on a deal, the Dodgers would at least have to consider trading Urias because Sale is easily a top 10 starting pitcher in the league and could arguably be moved into the top 5.

[graphiq id=”iDvQYMRwAlL” title=”Julio Urias Strikeouts per Game in 2016″ width=”600″ height=”493″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/iDvQYMRwAlL” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/401618/Julio-Urias” link_text=”Julio Urias Strikeouts per Game in 2016 | PointAfter” ]

Of course, this is all contingent on both teams willing to negotiate, but it seems to me like the White Sox and the Dodgers are a perfect match. Chicago has a need to build up their farm system and the Dodgers have the prospects to pull off the trade. The question is what would Hahn’s asking price be for their ace. A trade for Sale would certainly be centered around Urias, but other prospects the Dodgers may need to be include are Austin Barnes, Frankie Montas and Cody Bellinger or Alex Verdugo. Those are a few prospects that would definitely be in the conversation, but depending on how much MLB ready talent Chicago is looking for in return, it wouldn’t surprise me if Pederson or Puig’s name come up during the conversation.

Now, I’m not saying the Dodgers should over pay by any means for Chris Sale and clean the farm. A package centered around Urias should be enough to bring Sale over. But if Urias turns out to be the deal breaker I’d say the Dodgers are doing something wrong and need to reevaluate their approach to winning. At the end of the day our leaders (Kershaw, Gonzalez, Utley, and Ethier) are not getting younger and it pains me to say that Kershaw’s window of dominance could be closing soon. The Dodgers have to transition from “protecting the future” to “the future is now.”

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  1. I cannot find
    fault with what you are saying.Chris
    Sale is the one pitcher being discussed in any trade rumors that could include
    Julio Urias.Urias COULD be an Ace, but
    Sale IS an Ace.I do not equate this
    trade proposal with Pedro Martinez because…a) Martinez was an effective pitcher
    (albeit mostly in relief) as a Dodger at age 20, and b) Chris Sale is not Delino
    DeShields.Urias should not be
    considered in a trade for Chris Archer.
    The Chisox
    two real prospects, Carson Fulmer and Tim Anderson, are both on the 25 man
    roster, and the remaining farm is average to below average, and needs to be
    replenished.Urias goes a long way to
    helping them as soon as 2017, but the others would help with rebuilding the
    farm.Chicago has no catching, so Austin
    Barnes would probably be included.I
    would not be comfortable at all with including Alex Verdugo or Cody Bellinger
    in any trade.The Dodgers farm strength is
    RHP, not position players.There are no
    true position player prospects at AAA, but the Dodgers have three position
    players currently at AA that should not be moved because of their lack of talent
    at AAA and or age on 25 man; Alex Verdugo, Cody Bellinger, and Willie Calhoun.
    Yasiel Puig
    should be considered in the trade.Puig
    is young enough, with untapped talent, and perhaps can be mentored by Jose
    Abreu, his buddy also from Cienfuegos, Cuba.U.S. Cellular field is a launching pad compared to Dodger Stadium, and I
    would expect his power to be reborn in Chicago.Including Puig should eliminate the need to include Verdugo, Bellinger,
    or Calhoun.Thus, with Urias, Puig, and
    Austin Barnes, I think that the Dodgers can include a combination of one or two
    of Jharel Cotton/Ross Stripling/Brock Stewart/Trevor Oaks/Yusniel Diaz/Starling
    Heredia/Micah Johnson/Josh Sborz/Jacob Rhame/Imani Abdullah/Julian Leon to
    complete the deal.Many are ML ready,
    but the A level type prospects may have a higher ceiling and may help a team
    that needs an infusion of talent in their minor league system.
    If the
    Dodgers do get Sale, that would make a rotation of Kershaw, Sale, McCarthy,
    Maeda, and De Leon fairly formidable and still leave them with a strong minor
    league system.

  2. AlwaysCompete  Couldn’t agree with you anymore on all the points you touched on. This trade is not comparable to the Martinez trade because the Dodgers would be receiving a solid contributing player to their World Series run. 

    The Sox farm system is depleted, I mentioned that in the earlier stages in the article. If you also take into consideration that Frazier, Melky and Lawrie are all free agents this upcoming offseason, the Sox have a lot of holes to fill on their roster. They went all in during this season by trading for Frazier and Shield and by the looks of it neither have panned out. 

    I completely agree with not trading Bellinger. Bellinger plays first base and that’s going to be a position that the Dodgers are going to need to fill when A-gon is gone. I don’t see the Sox wanting to take back Micach Johnson since he was already in their system. 

    Adding Puig could sweeten up the deal for both sides. If the Dodgers include more MLB ready talent the White Sox could be willing to include their closer David Robinson, a piece the Dodgers could use to bridge from Blanton to Jansen. 

    I may not be inclined to do the deal if it consists of Urias, Barnes, and 2 of the follow (De Leon, Holmes, or Montas). I’d be willing to include 2 of our top SP’s but not 3. With that, the Dodgers couldn’t finalize a trade for Hamels, Lee, Cueto, or Price a few years back because they didn’t want to part with Zach Lee. Earlier this year they let Lee go little to nothing in return. 

    They may over value their prospects in these situations, which depending how you look at it may be good or bad. For me, I want to win now put the best team on the field.

  3. These posts are great and well thought out, there really does not seem to be any downside (at least currently) to including Urias in a trade for Sale and I also agree that Urias should only be included in a trade for Sale.  

    If Urias does become the player everyone believes he will be then it will sting a bit, but the way I see it Urias will not reach his full potential for several years yet and if even if he does it will be in the American League where we won’t have to be constantly reminded of it.

    The only real issue if the Dodgers do agree to trade Urias in a package is there are a few other teams with the pieces to also meet the high expectations of the White Sox. The Rangers and the Red Sox both have great prospects to trade and I can guarantee that if the Red Sox decide to include Yoan Moncada in a package then we can forget about seeing Sale in Dodger Blue.

  4. cbece013 AlwaysCompete  I like your writing and reasoning.  It was very well thought out and presented.  I agree that De Leon, Holmes, and Montas should not be included, which is why I did not include them in the list of players I would say to pick from.  If they are moving Urias…no to those three.  Although they are probably considered a step below, I might also include De Jong and Alveraz.  If they overpay by adding one too many RHSP, something they have an abundance of, I can live with that, as long as it is Cotton/Stripling/Stewart/Oaks/Sborz/Sopko/Abdullah/Rhame/or C. Anderson.  I would think that Urias, Puig, Barnes, and one other RHSP would be a fair return for Chris Sale, but they may have to overpay by adding one other RHSP, which I would frown at but agree to because I want Chris Sale (as long as one is Jharel Cotton).  Everyone has their favorites, and of those listed I would hate to lose Abdullah and Sborz.  But to get a Chris Sale, it is going to cost.

    By the way, I agree that Micah Johnson may not be an overwhelming choice to return to Chicago,  They are probably more comfortable with Jake Peter coming up some time next year, and assume full time in 2018, than a revisit of Johnson.

    Another by the way, I do like Jharel Cotton, but he is quickly becoming the new Zach Lee.  He will never get that shot with LA.  Perhaps he could with Chicago or Milwaukee or Cincinnati, or Tampa Bay (all potential trading partners).  I want to see him get a chance.

  5. I personally don’t think we should trade for Sale.  The price would be way too high.  One part of the article that I disagree with is Urias’ effectiveness in his first taste of the majors.  Look at who he faced and  where in his first several starts (@Mets, @Cubs, @San Francisco, @Washington, among others.  Yes, he wasn’t crisp sometimes, yes he was a little too wild and ran his pitch counts up, but anyone can see he is for real.  I agree with the guy who says this would remind him of the Pedro Martinez deal.  What makes Urias untouchable last year when Cole Hamels and David Price available, but makes him available for Chris Sale? Especially having to throw in another top pitching prospect and a top offense prospect at least.  If you’re going to build for the future, then build for the future.  Spend money instead of prospects.

  6. Jeff Glancy  Good points on the matchups Urias faced his first time around the majors, and as I said I’m not knocking the kid. He showed great resilience and that can transition to a quality pitcher and leader in the clubhouse years down the line. 

    The Pedro Martinez deal is way out of left field and I think that argument could be shut down with one sentence. Chris Sale is no Delino DeShields.

    When the article concludes it warps around the idea that the Dodgers missed out on trading for Price and Hamels in prior years because they were so reluctant to trade their top prospects. Later, they trade a highly-touted prospect in Zach Lee for a utility player that doesn’t have an everyday role (Chris Taylor). If we hold Urias his value will continue to decrease as he ages.

  7. AMRGroup  Thank you for those comments. As a team we work hard on touching on rumors and stories that all dodger fans are talking about at home. We try to articulate opinions based on research and our expectations for the Dodgers. 

    There are definetly other suiters out there for Sale and you mention the other 2 that could challenge the Dodgers in a bidding war. Problem is the players the Red Sox and Rangers have to offer are already in the MLB. 

    Chicago would as Texas for  A mixture of Mazara, Gallo, Profar, or even Odor 
    From Boston they’d likely try to ask for Bogaerts, Betts, and Moncada. 

    The Dodgers would be offering more prospects than Major league ready players.

  8. The truth of the matter is that nobodies really knows how both Sale and Urias will turn out. While Sale has proven he can dominate, he can easily get seriously injured, such as requiring Tommy John, done for the season and not get back to his dominate self. Or he can countinue dominate. Of course everyone hopes for the ladder. Likewise for can be said about Urias. It’s all a roll of the dice.
    The bottom line is, are the Dodgers willing to roll dice and break the farm system for Sale? Because the Dodgers will need much more than Urias to pull this trade off.

  9. Arodc03 – Injuries are unpredictable and can be an argument to never trade anyone for that matter. The dominating thought on all of these posts, “is Chris Sale worth trading a player with as much potential as Urias” is a valid one, but I, along with a whole generation of Dodger fans have been waiting nearly 30 years for a World Series title and the bottom line is that Chris Sale makes this team a legitimate contender for one now and Urias doesn’t.

    I think if the team can find a way to get Jay Bruce as the true power bat that is sorely lacking due to Adrian’s lack of power this season and Wade Davis to lock down the 8th inning (and also making sure we never see Chris Hatcher again) then a move to get Sale makes this team the overwhelming threat to the Cubs for the NL Pennant.

  10. AMRGroup –  I don’t think Sale alone will bring the Dodgers any closer to a WS this year.  As you point out  there’s more pieces to add to this puzzle than just Sale. And quiet frankly, there’s too many missing pieces at this point in the season. 
    The biggest missing piece right now is Kershaw and there is so much uncertainly with him right now, there’s no telling if he’s going be around come playoff time.  Even if the Dodgers do trade for Sale, Dodgers are going to need Kershaw just to have a shot at a team like the Cubs.  If they lose Kershaw, then the Sale trade would be to benefit next year because the Dodgers would be done this year.
    By the way, I’ve been waiting 30 years also so I feel your frustration.  I just don’t think the Dodgers have enough to be any better than they did last year and that’s with two aces in Kershaw and Grienke.   I think this years Dodgers fate was decide in not re-signing Grienke or someone like him (Price) and not pulling the trigger on Chapman.

  11. Arodc03 AMRGroup I agree, not re-signing Greinke and not getting Price was the start to all of this, but those are the reasons that make a trade for Sale now so important, we can’t afford to miss out again on Cy Young award winning pitcher with 3 years of control left on his team friendly deal. 

    Trust me, I’m not looking to deal Urias for anyone other than Sale and if Sale was a rental who was due to become a free agent at the end of the season I wouldn’t even consider putting Urias in it. But the fact that the Dodgers would be trading an unproven prospect for a Cy Young Award winning pitcher who’s 27 and has 3 years left on his already inexpensive deal? You have to do that, not just for a run this year but for the fact that you could build around Kershaw and Sale for the next several years as well.

    Also here is another way of looking at it. The reason everyone brings up the Pedro for Delino Deshields trade is not just because Pedro went on to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time but also because DeShields was horrible and the trade yielded nothing for the Dodgers in the end. 

    Think about this though, in 1994 would you have traded Pedro Martinez for Greg Maddux or Randy Johnson? 

    Hell yes you would! No question, that would be a highly touted prospect in exchange for a proven pitcher who had just won the Cy Young award the previous year….This trade, this Sale for Urias trade would be a high level prospect in exchange for a pitcher who won the Cy Young award the previous year. Actually Jack McDowell won the AL Cy Young in 1993, Johnson came in 2nd.

  12. AMRGroup – Deshields had two good years with Expos, he batted .294 and averaged 45 stolen bases and at the time of the trade he looked established.  Pedro on the other had was working out of the Dodger bullpen and was thought to be too small and nowhere close to being coveted like Urias.  So on paper the trade looked favorable for the Dodgers.  But who would have known that Deshields would have turned out to be a disappoint?  Who would have know that Pedro would have turned into one of the greatest pitchers of all time?  My point is that nobody knows, it’s a roll of the dice.  But the part that I think you are missing is that if the trade was just Sale for Urias, sure pull the trigger.  But that’s not what the White Sox are asking.  They want Urias plus a bunch of other top prospects such “as Austin Barnes, Frankie Montas and Cody Bellinger or Alex Verdugo”.  This is where I say, no way!

  13. Arodc03 AMRGroup – Again you make my point, prospects are just that, prospects, and if thats all they want in exchange for Sale I’d say done deal. If I was the Sox I wouldn’t do it for anything less then Urias, Montas, Bellinger, Barnes, De Leon or Holmes, some combination of 4 or 5 guys to get it done.

  14. AMRGroup – Well, let’s see what happens.  My guess is that it won’t happen.  Appreciate the discussion.

  15. Arodc03 AMRGroup Same here, i always like talking Dodgers with informed people. You know the funniest thing about this whole thing is they probably wont even trade him, lol.

  16. AMRGroup – For what it’s worth, I saw Pedro Martinez pitch here in Albuquerque for the back then AAA affiliate, Albuquerque Dukes. He had good stuff but he was young and inconsistent.  Personally, I think he was overshadowed by his older brother Ramon, who was a stud at AAA and eventually made it to the Dodgers.  I think Pedro was compared to Ramon and when Pedro didn’t live up to Ramon’s standards, I think that’s when Pedro became expandable. Pedro really didn’t come into his own until he got traded to Montreal. While it’s painful to know that Pedro was once under the Dodgers control, while he was with the Dodgers he was no better than say Zack Lee, who was once top prospect for the Dodgers but failed to live up to the expectations so he was traded. Imagine Zack finding lots of success with another team and then looking back and saying, darn the Dodgers had him but traded him.  Pretty much what happened with Pedro.

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