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Column: Chicago White Sox ace Garrett Crochet ready to deal with trade rumors — a recurring theme on the South Side

Garrett Crochet helped end the Chicago White Sox’s franchise record 14-game losing streak Friday with another strong outing in a 7-2 victory against the Boston Red Sox.

He leads the majors with 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings and has been one of the few bright spots for a team that looks destined to be in automatic rebuild mode for years.

So it only makes perfect sense in Sox World that by Saturday morning the big question was where Crochet would be dealt at the trade deadline.

San Diego? Milwaukee? The New York Yankees?

Is there any contender who wouldn’t be interested in the left-hander who makes $800,000 and has 2½ more years of team control?

Crochet doesn’t think too much about the possibility of leaving or about being mentioned in trade rumors.

“It’s kind of a testament that I’ve been throwing the ball well,” Crochet told me Saturday before the White Sox won their second straight, beating the Red Sox 6-1 behind Gavin Sheets’ fifth-inning grand slam. “That’s all I think (about it). Winning games here for the White Sox is my only focus.”

The White Sox should have no urgency to trade Crochet, who is both inexpensive and under team control through 2026. But there’s always the risk for general manager Chris Getz of waiting too long and watching Crochet suffer another arm injury, which obviously would affect his value.

Manager Pedro Grifol had little time to celebrate the end of the losing streak before the subject changed to trade rumors.

“It comes across the desk every once in a while, but we’re not focused on that,” Grifol said Saturday morning, adding trade rumors to his job status on the growing list of topics he says he’s not focused on. “To execute a trade in the big leagues, it takes a little bit of time on both sides, especially when there’s really good players involved. So I’m not focused on that.”

Grifol later added: “We are going to be facing these trade talks questions (or) I’m going to be facing them until July 31st.”

That’s assuming he’s still the manager on July 31. But that’s not the focus here, so let’s stay focused.

Grifol’s statement about the time it takes to trade the “really good players” narrows down the field quite a bit. The Sox have only two players with an fWAR above 1.0 — Crochet (2.3) and Erick Fedde (1.6). Luis Robert Jr. would be there if he hadn’t been injured most of the season, so we can add him to the list of “really good players.”

Crochet has the higher trade value because he’s dominating in his first season as a starter, has a 97-mph four-seam fastball and an excellent slider and cutter. And because he’s also a pitcher employed by the Chicago White Sox, he’s likely to be dealt before he asks for a long-term deal.

Robert said last week he would like to stay but is OK either way. Crochet said Saturday that he’d like to stick around as well.

“Everybody’s dream and goal is to play your whole career with one team,” he said. “It’s a very select group of a few guys that get to do that. Like Ryan Zimmerman being Mr. National. That’s just a cool thing.”

Cool, true. But is it a realistic dream?

“A lot of things are out of my control,” Crochet replied. “I just throw the ball as best as I can and hope for the best. I haven’t had any conversation (with the Sox) or anything like that.”

I asked Crochet if he had spoken with former teammates Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon or anyone else who went through the same thing he will be going through if he stays. Pitchers hoping for long-term deals with the Sox are a dime a dozen. Pitchers actually getting long-term deals with the Sox are a rarity.

“I feel like I remember (Dylan) Cease saying something along those lines, that he wanted to stay here,” Crochet said. “Gio might have said the same. I never talked to him specifically, though.”

The number of Sox pitchers who either have been dealt or left as free agents because Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf refused to offer them market value is long and storied. Mark Buehrle talked about it on the Sox telecast Friday night. The Sox were happy to retire his number, but they wouldn’t pay him when they had the opportunity in 2012, so he left for the Miami Marlins.

It’s a recurring theme on the South Side. In my first season as a Sox beat writer at the Tribune 30 years ago, GM Ron Schueler traded Jack McDowell to the New York Yankees for Lyle Mouton and Keith Herberling. Alex Fernandez, another first-round pick, had taken over as the ace in 1995 and repeatedly said the same things as Crochet.

“I’d hate to lose Alex,” Schueler said in summer 1996. “And I think Alex would like to stay here. But I think Alex is probably going to explore the free-agent market if he has a chance to.”

When I asked Fernandez at the end of the 1996 season, he said: “I’d love to end my career (with the Sox). I just hope I can stay and get what I deserve. I respect people’s policy (on long-term deals for starters) and I respect Jerry’s opinion. But why should I give up $6 (million) or $7 million because they don’t want to give a fifth year?”

Fernandez got that five-year deal with the Marlins after the season and won a ring in 1997. The next to go was Wilson Alvarez, who was dealt to the San Francisco Giants in the White Flag trade in 1997. On and on it went.

Former Sox pitchers Chris Sale, Reynaldo Lopez and Cease all could make the National League All-Star team next month. Rodon could be on the AL squad. I recall Sale and Cease also saying they wanted to stay with the Sox.

Crochet can’t be blamed for not knowing the history of Sox pitchers asking for long-term deals and then departing when they were denied.

“No,” he said. “Pitching tends to be more expensive, or more volatile. I don’t know. I don’t really look into it like that.”

Maybe the Sox will solve that problem by trading Crochet before he even gets a chance to ask.

And then we can all focus on something else.