CHICAGO -- No player on the Chicago White Sox is untouchable as the trade deadline approaches.
That includes left-hander Chris Sale, who could yield a bevy of prospects from a desperate contender. Expect plenty of "buyers" to be watching as Sale takes the mound Saturday against the Detroit Tigers.
In all likelihood, the 27-year-old southpaw will stay in Chicago for at least the remainder of the season. At 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA, he is a top candidate for the American League Cy Young Award.
But what if a contending team calls with a blockbuster trade offer for Sale or another star player?
"We have a responsibility to listen," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said to reporters this week. "We have an obligation to understand the value of our guys that are out there and listen to any and all ideas. This time of year, sometimes teams get a little more aggressive and want to put something in front of you that would be, frankly, too difficult to say no to. If that happens, we have the responsibility to listen and vet it and make the best decision for the franchise."
The White Sox (46-50) could transform into sellers after losing eight of the past nine games to fall 10 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Chicago raced to a 23-10 start but has produced a 23-40 record since then.
Meanwhile, the forecast for the Tigers (51-46) is sunnier -- or, at least, not as gray.
Left-hander Matt Boyd (1-2, 4.91 ERA) will make his eighth start Saturday for Detroit. The 25-year-old is coming off his first win of the season after pitching six scoreless innings against Minnesota. Boyd allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first appearance against the White Sox on June 13.
Detroit is 5-3 since the All-Star break and trails Cleveland by six games in the division.
Sale is no stranger to Detroit's hitters. He is 8-6 with a 3.20 ERA in his career against the Tigers, including a 5-3 mark with a 2.97 ERA in 16 outings (nine starts) at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale earned the victory against Detroit on June 15 after limiting the Tigers to three runs in seven innings.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he would not be surprised if his team stood pat at the deadline. Detroit could receive a boost soon as right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (right neck strain) and outfielder J.D. Martinez (right elbow) approach their returns.
"Sometimes, the best move is to do nothing," Ausmus said.
As a player, Ausmus said, he was part of some teams that made big-splash trades at the deadline and other teams that decided to stick with the players on the roster. In 1993, Ausmus was playing for Triple-A Colorado Springs when the Colorado Rockies shipped him to the San Diego Padres in a five-player trade. The Padres immediately promoted Ausmus and flew him to Wrigley Field to join the team on the road.
"I walked in during the middle of the game -- it was a day game -- and Tony Gwynn was in the middle of a five-hit game, and Andy Benes had a shutout going," Ausmus said. "And I played the next day."