Updated: December 9, 2013 11:05PM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Not far from here, where Chris Sale makes his home, the White Sox left-hander’s ears had to be ringing.
The Florida native probably shouldn’t concern himself too much with rumors that he could be traded, though.
“I know if we don’t give you guys news, you have to make it up,’’ chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said to reporters on the morning of the first day of the winter meetings. “I just kind of laugh about it.’’
A national column spelling out reasons why Sale could be dealt kicked the rumor mill into high gear for a few hours, even though it’s believed Sale is close to untouchable. He’s 24, 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.
Whether another team is willing to part with perhaps the three prospects and two players that it might take to pry Sale away is another thing. While saying Sale is no Michael Jordan, Reinsdorf said he would be surprised if general manager Rick Hahn traded his prized lefty.
“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 [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.’’
Hahn was en route from Chicago when Reinsdorf spoke. After Hahn arrived, he opened his session with Chicago media by breaking policy of speaking to specific names, basically quelling the rumors about Sale. He characterized them as “a dog-bites-man story.’’
“We have to be open-minded, but there are certain integral parts of this club that if they ever were to be moved, it would be for a return that we felt was overwhelming,’’ Hahn said.
Hahn, who made a small move by signing pitcher Felipe Paulino on Monday, is looking for upgrades at catcher (the Rays’ Jose Lobaton is available), third base (former Sox Juan Uribe was the most intriguing rumor) and perhaps in the outfield (the Yankees’ Brett Gardner is a center field-leadoff fit but is a free agent after 2014) to improve an offense that ranked last in the American League in numerous categories. Hahn could use a lefty reliever, too.
Asked if he sensed something more would be done during these meetings, which run through Thursday, Hahn said, “We have a lot of different conversations going on. Nothing’s done until everyone agrees whether it’s with a free agent or via a trade. We have been real close to a couple of things this offseason that didn’t happen and we’ve got other things, some of which have leaked out, that are in the queue.’’
Hahn said he recently was close to dealing a pitcher, but “the other club decided to go for a position player instead.’’