The Chicago White Sox may have one of the rarest commodities in baseball -- a young, dominant left-handed starting pitcher -- but Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson believes even 24-year-old ace Chris Sale is not above being traded by the struggling club.
"I've never, ever seen a player who couldn't be traded. Never. If the deal is right you can trade anybody," Harrelson said Thursday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "Would I hate to lose Chris Sale? Yes. First of all, because he's something special in the talent department, and the other thing is he's one of the nicest young men you'll ever meet. He's great in the clubhouse, he's great for the team. But if the right deal came up, I'd trade him, I'd trade anybody on our ballclub.
"There's no untouchables, and if you're going to have one good outstanding talent on a club that's trying to get ready maybe not so much for next year but 2015, then you've got to think about things. It will be interesting to see what (general manager) Rick (Hahn) and his staff does."
Sale was named to his second All-Star Game this week. After his win Thursday over the Tigers, Sale has a 6-8 record but ranks fifth in the American League in ERA (2.85) and fifth in strikeouts (131). The Sox have struggled to support their ace, averaging 2.46 runs in his starts, last in the major leagues.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote this week that he would trade Sale because the trade market for pitching is weak and the Sox could get plenty of talent in return. ESPN The Magazine's Tim Kurkjian disagreed with Harrelson on "Carmen & Jurko" Thursday, saying he doesn't see a team making an offer for Sale that is too good to pass up. Plus, Kurkjian believes a deal like that would be a tough sell to the Sox fan base.
The White Sox, who enter Thursday's game against the Detroit Tigers 35-53 and 14 games back in the AL Central, have three major trade chips to move by the July 31 trade deadline: pitchers Jesse Crain and Jake Peavy and outfielder Alex Rios. But Crain and Peavy are on the disabled list, which complicates things for Hahn.
If the Sox trade off many of their core players -- including Sale -- can fans tolerate a rebuilding mode?
"Could you tolerate it rather than watch what we've been watching for the first half of this year?" Harrelson said. "It can be tolerated, and Sox fans know that, they understand it. Our core base of fans, they are just awesome. They know what's going on, they see the same things that you and I see every day, and they know something has got to be done."