Red Sox “mutually invested” with Chris Sale on contract extension
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale reveals that he has been in contract extension talks with the team and remains open to staying beyond this season.
Chris Sale could have his pick from a lengthy list of suitors if he hits the free agent market next winter but the Boston Red Sox remain his top choice.
The Red Sox have several other key players who can test free agency after this season, including Rick Porcello, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, and potentially J.D. Martinez. Whether or not to re-sign Sale could be the most important decision the franchise makes within the next year but they may be able to cross that item off their list early with an extension this spring.
While the sides don’t appear to be on the verge of an agreement, Sale seems optimistic that the Red Sox want him to stick around as much as he wants to be here.
"“I think we’re both mutually invested in this,” Sale told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. “We’ve both said on both sides that it’s a possibility, for sure.”"
Time is running out to reach an extension before Opening Day and it’s unlikely Sale would welcome the distraction of negotiating during the season. Even if the front office can’t lock Sale into an early extension, they can still be laying the groundwork for next offseason.
Committing a lucrative deal to a pitcher who turns 30 later this month would make any team hesitant, let alone one that already owns MLB’s highest payroll. Sale is coming off a season plagued by shoulder soreness that limited him to 158 innings, his lowest total since his rookie season. The Red Sox may be inclined to wait and see how his shoulder holds up this season before finalizing a long-term agreement.
Working in the team’s favor is that money isn’t Sale’s only priority. He proved that when he signed a team-friendly deal with the Chicago White Sox in 2013 following his first All-Star campaign, forgoing three years of free agency. The five-year, $32.5 million deal with a pair of affordable team options proved to be among the best bargain contracts in baseball. That deal comes to an end after this season, giving Sale perhaps his last opportunity to cash in big.
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Sale’s desire to remain in Boston shows he’s comfortable in this environment, both in terms of handling the pressure professionally and how his family has adapted to this city. Signing almost anywhere else in free agency introduces a new set of unknowns that he must factor into his decision.
Winning is also a priority for Sale. He’ll be hard-pressed to find a better path to a title than with the reigning World Series champions.
We can’t pretend that money isn’t a factor though. Even if Sale honestly isn’t concerned about his salary, he’s aware of what his next deal will mean for those who come after him. The Player’s Union may riot if Sale agreed to a deal anywhere near as team-friendly as his last one. He’s going to get paid. That doesn’t necessarily mean he has to go to the highest bidder but even with the other factors working in their favor, Boston still has to be in the ballpark of the best offers.
An early extension prior to this season eliminates the other bidders who could drive up the price tag. It would be risky considering the uncertainty with Sale’s balky shoulder and lingering concerns about if he can still handle an ace’s workload. Then again, letting Sale hit the open market where he could potentially be lured away might be a bigger risk that they can’t afford to take.