Jerry Reinsdorf addresses Chris Sale trade rumor
BY DARYl VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter December 9, 2013 11:50AM
Updated: December 9, 2013 12:04PM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Not far from here, where Chris Sale makes his home, the White Sox left-hander’s ears must be ringing.
The Florida native probably shouldn’t concern himself too much with rumors that he could be traded.
“I know if we don’t give you guys news you have to make it up,’’ chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said shortly after former Sox manager Tony La Russa was elected to the Hall of Fame. “I just kind of laugh about it.’’
The setting at the first day of the winter meetings put Sale’s name out there, even though it’s believed Sale is close to untouchable. He’s young, a two-time All-Star and Cy Young candidate and his contract – which could pay him up to $60 million through 2019 with option years for the Sox on the last two years – is a good one for the Sox.
It’s also tough to envision a team parting with the caliber of prospects and young players that would be needed to pry Sale away. Starting pitchers are always risky, and the fear that Sale is more susceptible to injury than some because of his slight build and manner of throwing across his body doesn’t diminish that in his case even though he made 29 and 30 starts the last two years.
A national column spelling out reasons why the Sox should deal Sale sparked rumors that he might be shopped.
“I just heard that rumor,’’ Reinsdorf said. “I only had one player in my 33 years of sports who couldn’t be traded. He wore No. 23 – and 45 when he played baseball [Michael Jordan]. I never had another player that couldn’t be traded so I can’t tell you when I see Rick and [vice president] Kenny [Williams] today they don’t tell me they want to trade him. But I would be very surprised.’’
Reinsdorf was on hand to see his close friend, La Russa, announced as a Hall of Fame inductee along with former managers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox. All three were unanimous selections.
La Russa spent eight of his 33 seasons managing the Sox, going 522-510 from 1979-1986. The 522 wins and 1,035 games are the fourth most in Sox history. He led the team to 99 wins and AL Western Division championship.
“Tony won the first of his Manager of the Year awards that season, and I still tell everyone my biggest mistake in sports was letting him be fired [by general manager Ken Harrelson] in 1986.
“When you run an organization you can’t tell the head of a department who’s going to work for him. You have to let him have his own people. The general manager wanted to let him go and I couldn’t talk him out of it so I had to let it happen. But I did have his next job for him before he was fired, before I let that happen. I told Roy Eisenhardt who was president of the Oakland A’s, ‘If we let him go will you hire him?’ and he did in a heartbeat. I’d like to think if Roy had said no I would have stopped it, but anyway. …
“Now 18 years later, it probably was the best thing for our relationship because we became very good friends on a personal level and a level that’s really hard to have with somebody who works for you. Tony has a great sense of humor. Every time we meet someone together he manages to tell somebody I fired him.
“Tony is a very good friend and an incredible human being. I am so proud of all he has accomplished over the years, capped by today’s very special Hall of Fame selection.’’
La Russa is the fifth former Sox manager to be inducted, joining Frank Chance (elected in 1946), Hugh Duffy (1945), Bob Lemon (1976) and Al Lopez (1977).
La Russa managed the Athletics (1989) and Cardinals (2006, 2011) to World Series titles. His 2,728 wins as a manager are the third-most in history behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).