Mets heave sigh of relief as Nationals lose Chris Sale to Red Sox

A one-word answer, in the form of a text, from someone in the Mets organization on Tuesday succinctly summed up the significance of Chris Sale going to the Red Sox, as opposed to the Nationals:

“Whew.”

Yes, in their hotel suite at the Winter Meetings, Mets officials may well have raised a glass to toast Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski in the hours after the Sox pulled off the blockbuster trade for Sale, the White Sox ace, snatching him from the Nats in the process.

The Yankees, of course, no doubt had quite the opposite reaction, with Sale going to their arch-rival, as the Red Sox now loom as huge favorites not just to win the AL East but to advance to the World Series.

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Brian Cashman went so far as to call them baseball’s version of the Golden State Warriors.

JULY 18, 2016, FILE PHOTO

Chris Sale’s arrival to Boston has bolstered the Red Sox rotation, and the Mets couldn’t be happier.

(Ted S. Warren/AP)

It’s just that the Yankees aren’t even dreaming about winning a championship in 2017. If anything, Sale going to the Red Sox should further convince them not to take any shortcuts in their rebuild, because they’re going to need to be loaded with young talent to compete with the Sox over the next several years.

One thing, though: they now have more reason to regret not outbidding Boston for Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada two winters ago. Moncada, who is ranked among the top two or three prospects in all of baseball, turned out to be the centerpiece in the package for Sale.

In any case, for the win-now Mets the impact of Sale going to the Nationals would have been more immediate and dramatic.

White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, prospects

If the Mets’ pitching is healthy again, their starters can match up with any team, as Noah Syndergaard felt compelled to remind the world on Tuesday, going on Twitter while the Nationals were looking like favorites for Sale to say he’d “agree to disagree” with anyone saying Washington would have the better starting rotation.

You have to like his moxie, but it would have been awfully hard not give the Nats an edge had they added Sale to a rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Tanner Roark.

The Nationals tried hard for Sale, offering top prospects like pitchers Lucas Giolito and outfielder Victor Roble as part of a bigger package, but after the deal was done, major-league talent evaluators were saying the inclusion of Moncada gave the Red Sox a clear advantage.

The consensus, in fact, was that the only way the Nats could have topped Dombrowski’s offer would have been to include Trea Turner, their dynamic young shortstop/center fielder who had a huge impact after his call-up in August and looks like a star in the making.

Mets receiving little interest in Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson

And the Nats were never doing that.

But now what? In addition to losing out on Sale, they’ve lost their closer, Mark Melancon, who signed with the Giants on Monday. This at a time when GM Mike Rizzo desperately wants to make a major move to help them finally get over the hump in the playoffs.

Their October failures provided something of a backdrop to the Bryce Harper controversy that emerged from the Winter Meetings on Monday, when a Nats source told USA Today the team had no intention of meeting their young star’s demands of a $400 million contract.

Not that anyone had much doubt Harper is headed for free agency after the 2018 season, guided by Scott Boras, but the comments added a certain urgency to the notion the Nationals have a two-year window to win with him on the ballclub — as well as Daniel Murphy, who has two years left on his bargain deal.

Sandy Alderson says David Wright will be back at third for Mets

Perhaps the Nats now will revisit their trade talks with the Pirates about outfielder Andrew McCutchen. He could be a strong addition if he bounces back from an off-year, but chances are he won’t be the difference-maker that Sale could have been, especially in the postseason.

Yoan Moncada.

Yoan Moncada.

(Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

That’s why he’s such a great get for the Red Sox as well. They have a powerful offense, even without the retiring David Ortiz, and kudos to Dombrowski for acquiring Sale without giving up any of his major-league talent, including Nick Benintendi, whom the White Sox wanted, but the bats were cold during their division series against the Indians, when they were swept.

Sale could make the Sox the team to beat come October. In addition to his own dominance, perhaps he takes some pressure off David Price, who is notorious for his struggles in the postseason.

As part of a four-player package, Dombrowski gave up some prized young talent in the trade. Moncada is 21 with a world of athleticism, and 20-year-old righthander Michael Kopech had scouts swooning in the Arizona Fall League, where he dominated with a Syndergaard-like fastball that topped 100 mph.

Even if those prospects turn into stars, however, the Sox had the depth of young talent to make the trade a no-brainer. Sale, after all, will only be 28 in March, and considering the price of starting pitching, the $38 million he’s owed over the next three years is practically a bargain.

So his move to Boston makes life more difficult for the Yankees in the AL East, and, who knows, maybe Sale could wind up standing in the way of the Mets in October. But suffice it to say they’ll take their chances against him if they reach the World Series.

On Tuesday they were just thrilled they won’t have to go through him to win the NL East.

Tags:
mlb
mlb transactions
new york mets
washington nationals
new york yankees
boston red sox
chris sale
yoan moncada

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