Red Sox ace Chris Sale wants to stay in Boston beyond 2019 season

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Chris Sale
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Chris Sale /

Red Sox ace Chris Sale will be a free agent after this season. While he’s yet to discuss a contract extension with the team, he wants to stay in Boston.

This is potentially the final season that Chris Sale will spend wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform but the talented lefty certainly hopes that isn’t the case.

The 29-year old will hit free agency next winter, affording him the first opportunity of his career to test his worth on the open market. He’s free to go where he wants but what Sale wants is to stay put.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Sale told reporters in Fort Myers on Tuesday that the team has yet to reach out to him regarding a contract extension. He’s open to having that discussion though if his phone rings.

"“I would love (to stay in Boston),” said Sale. “This is a special place… Not to mention, it’s going to be a hell of a team for a few years to come.”"

If winning is the priority, Sale would be hard-pressed to find a better situation than the reigning World Series champions. The Red Sox possess a mix of talented young players and proven veterans, putting them in a position to win now while maintaining that success for the foreseeable future.

Money will be a factor, as it always is when it comes to free agency. Sale has never been one to worry about earning every cent but there must be limits to the type of team-friendly contract he’d be willing to accept. He may take less to stay in Boston but the Player’s Association would undoubtedly raise a fuss if the top free agent pitcher settled for well below market value. Sale has an opportunity to set the market for top-tier pitchers next year and his decision will have a trickledown effect on his fellow players.

The Red Sox already have the highest payroll in baseball and have several other key players approaching free agency in the next year or two. Tough decisions are ahead for this franchise and they won’t be able to keep everyone. Red Sox ownership has shown a willingness to pay deep into the luxury tax for a contender but it’s not a feasible strategy every year.

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You would assume the Red Sox would make their best pitcher a priority, although that may depend on how his shoulder holds up following a season in which he made two trips to the disabled list and had to be carefully monitored through the postseason. Uncertainty about his long-term health is presumably why the Red Sox haven’t opened talks of an extension despite Sale’s willingness to sit at the table.

Boston’s brass may be waiting to see how Sale’s shoulder responds in spring training. The team is expected to ramp up his activity slowly but they should have a better idea of his status before the regular season begins. Sale should be ready for Opening Day but they aren’t going to push him in camp.

If Sale is all systems go by the end of spring training and puts concerns of his balky shoulder behind him, perhaps the Red Sox will approach him about an extension. It’s unlikely that he’ll want to negotiate once the season begins so they’ll need to lock him up before then in order to prevent him from testing free agency.

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Even if he does hit the market next winter, Sale’s preference to remain in Boston gives them an edge. The Red Sox will have a window to negotiate with their ace before the competition gets a chance to raise the price tag. If they make him a fair offer, Boston could sign Sale to a new contract before he even considers alternative options.