Red Sox exercise 2018 options for Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21: Chris Sale
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21: Chris Sale /

The Boston Red Sox have officially exercised the 2018 team options for left-handed starter Chris Sale and right-handed reliever Craig Kimbrel.

In what will undoubtedly go down as the least surprising moves of the offseason, the Boston Red Sox announced that they have exercised the 2018 team options for Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel.

Was there ever a doubt that this would happen?

Sale’s contract included a $12.5 million option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout. Picking up that option was a no-brainer following a season in which Sale won 17 games, posted a 2.90 ERA and led the league in innings pitched and strikeouts. He made a run at Pedro Martinez‘ single-season strikeout record, falling just short with 308.

He’s in a two-man race with Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber for the AL Cy Young award, making Sale one of baseball’s best bargains at his $12 million price tag this year. The Red Sox will have no problem giving him a minor bump in salary next year.

More from Red Sox News

There is another team option on Sale’s contract for $13.5 million in 2019. Barring a career-altering injury, we can assume Boston will pick that up as well a year from now.

Kimbrel’s contract included a $13 million option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout. While it may not be ideal to pay a closer who works in a more limited role more than your workhorse ace, it’s hard to argue that Kimbrel isn’t worth it.

The flame-throwing right-hander was third in the league in saves, converting 35 of 39 opportunities. He led the league with a 1.43 ERA and 0.68 WHIP (minimum 40 innings pitched). Kimbrel’s 16.43 K/9 led all major league pitchers and he struck out nearly half the batters he faced this season.

The $13 million that Kimbrel will earn next season currently makes him the second highest paid closer in baseball, behind only New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, according to

Next season will be Kimbrel’s last on his current contract and his future beyond 2018 remains unclear. His first season in Boston was solid, yet fell short of lofty expectations. He followed that with a dominant season that earned him AL Reliever of the Year honors. Another strong season will undoubtedly earn him a massive payday on the free agent market and the Red Sox will have to weigh spending that money on a closer against retaining their young position players. The money they spend to add a bat to their power-starved lineup this winter or next may dictate whether or not they can afford to keep Kimbrel beyond next season.

Next: Reclamation projects who could add rotation depth

The future can wait. For now, at least we know that both Sale and Kimbrel will be on board for the 2018 season. With arguably the league’s best starting pitcher and closer leading the pitching staff, the Red Sox are in good shape.