Sox ace has irreplaceable talent
Whether it's a sweeping slider to a left-handed hitter or a changeup (preceded by a 95 mph fastball) to a righty, Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale has the complete package that has turned him into the staff ace.
There can be no doubt that Sale is the most untradable baseball player in Chicago. It doesn't mean that others, such as Jeff Samardzija and Anthony Rizzo, aren't worth building a club around. But Sale has the talent to end up having the most impact of anybody in town.
Arms like Sale's don't come around often, and for the White Sox to even think about dealing him away would mean they think his talent can be replaced. That's simply absurd.
Also key to the argument is that at 24 years old, even if the White Sox want to go the route of tearing down the roster and rebuilding, Sale would still be of prime age when the club was ready to win again.
As he showed earlier this month with a dominant one-hitter against a Los Angeles Angels lineup that included Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, Sale has the ability to take over any game he starts. And he already has pushed himself into the conversation when it comes to the elite pitchers in the game.
If there was any argument to be made that Sale isn't worth building around for the long term, it might come from those who think his violent delivery could leave him prone to injury. He did have a slight bout of elbow soreness last season, and some shoulder soreness this season caused him to miss a start.
The White Sox, though, will take their chances with a once-in-a-decade pitching talent. They knew what they were getting when they drafted him, and so far they've received everything they have hoped for and more.
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.
Cubs slugger safest bet for stardom
Considering he's a left-handed, power-hitting first baseman and doesn't run the same risk of injury as a pitcher, Anthony Rizzo is my choice for the most untradable Chicago baseball player.
Even at just 23 years old, Rizzo is simply more reliable than any of the other potential choices, including teammate Starlin Castro. That doesn't mean Rizzo will have a better career than Castro or be more valuable than a dominant starting pitcher such as Chris Sale, but if you want solid production year to year, Rizzo is the way to go.
He's making adjustments on the fly in his first full year in the major leagues, and with power to all fields, he'll only get better. Left-handed thumpers are hard to come by, especially at Wrigley Field. It takes tremendous strength and a good swing to pull the ball out to right field, and Rizzo has already shown he has that kind of power.
Unlike Castro, Rizzo is the better bet to improve his discipline at the plate and improve his on-base percentage. Between the two, Rizzo simply seems more reliable. And Rizzo is a potential Gold Glove candidate, although he got off to a slow start in the field this season. Castro shows flashes at a tougher position, but there's no guarantee he'll even be the shortstop of the future.
If Sale hadn't already experienced some arm issues, he might be my choice -- he's that good. But calling him untradable means making a long-term commitment to him. There aren't many pitchers you would go that route with.
Jeff Samardzija is mostly a power pitcher whose pitch counts can be an issue. He'll log a lot of innings before it's all said and done, so he presents another question mark, at least compared to Rizzo.
Rizzo is a hard worker who isn't satisfied despite having just signed a long-term contract. Both for his potential and his reliability, Rizzo is the least tradable player in Chicago baseball.
Jesse Rogers covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.