In the offseason, the fact that the Cubs and White Sox would not make a major trade was a considerable source of discussion. Until Chris Sale was dealt to the Red Sox, many Cubs fans wondered whether their team could take a run at the White Sox ace, only to be told by a variety of sources that a big-time deal between the teams simply wasn’t going to happen. Although the front offices both said they would gladly listen to any offer, the reality is something like what I wrote at the time:
“[F]or reasons not entirely tied to baseball, the Chicago White Sox will not make a significant trade with the Chicago Cubs. Full stop. The end. It’s just the way it is.
It’s not necessarily a matter of pettiness, mind you, it’s just that – within the local market – folks at the highest levels of the White Sox power structure do not want to see a deal they make actually help the Cubs get more attention in a city that already disproportionately goes that way.
At its most generous, you could read this position as simply a matter of business. I’m not sure I would see it the same way, but, hey, I’m not in charge of the White Sox. Maybe there’s a lot I don’t know, and I’ll certainly concede that in the battle for local baseball attention, the White Sox’s task has only become more difficult in the last few years.
So, then, if they don’t want to see a home-grown star like Sale go to the Cubs and win even more, they will make sure no trade happens, no matter how enticing.”
Today’s fun is a note that the White Sox aren’t the only organization that thinks this way about a local rival, even one in another league:
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) February 22, 2017
Squashed by the owners. You can read the article for the full context (including the details of the long-running legal dispute between the organizations), and, although it’s not entirely clear whether the deal was shut down by one ownership group or both, the message is clear: the sides had non-baseball reasons for disallowing a reasonable baseball deal to come together.
It’s a layer of reality about baseball trades that rarely comes to light, but is worth remembering when we openly wonder why Team X accepted so little for Player Y, or why Team A held onto Player B. It’s not always strictly about the baseball operations issues.
Also: it’s just fun to think about how the Cubs landed Arrieta when the Nationals could not. Of course, given Arrieta’s progression with the Cubs after the trade, I don’t think we can say for certain that the same thing would have happened with the Nationals. Fortunately, it didn’t work out that way anyway.
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