The Boston Red Sox have announced that they have exercised their team option for ace Chris Sale, who will return to the team in 2019.
The first order of business for the Boston Red Sox to address this offseason was also the most obvious. Keeping Chris Sale in town was the top priority.
The team announced on Tuesday that they have exercised the 2019 option on Sale’s contract. He will be owed $15 million next season, his last before hitting the free agent market. He would have been paid a $1 million buyout had the team declined the option, although that was never going to happen.
Sale produced another stellar season, going 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 237 strikeouts. He appeared to be a lock for his first Cy Young award until shoulder inflammation limited him to only seven starts in the second half. He should still be a contender for the award but falling short of the necessary innings to qualify for the ERA title may be held against him by voters.
The Red Sox treated their ace with kid gloves down the stretch, gradually building up his workload in preparation for the postseason. He tossed 5 1/3 innings in the ALDS against the New York Yankees to earn a win but managed only four innings in his other two postseason starts. Sale also made two relief appearances, including recording the final out of the World Series-clinching Game 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Picking up the one-year option doesn’t necessarily prevent the Red Sox from discussing an extension with their ace. However, you can’t blame Sale if he chooses to test the free agent waters next winter after seeing other top-tier starting pitchers cash in over the last few years. The Red Sox may also have concerns about the shoulder issues that plagued him this year and want to wait to see how he holds up next season before committing to the lefty long-term.
Sale’s return anchors a strong starting rotation that should also include David Price, assuming he doesn’t opt out of his contract. While Sale had a team option that left the decision entirely up to Boston’s front office, Price hast he luxury of controlling his own fate.
While he’s made no indication that he wants to leave, Price has until Wednesday to decide whether or not to forego the remaining $127 million on his deal to test free agency again. His postseason heroics dispelling the narrative that he can’t win in October should make him more enticing to suitors if he hits the open market, which may make Price think twice about opting in.
The Red Sox still have some open questions to address this winter but the top of the rotation isn’t one of them. We’ll have the pleasure of watching Sale pitch in a Red Sox uniform for at least one more season.