The Boston Red Sox are reportedly nearing an agreement on a multi-year contract extension for left-handed pitcher Chris Sale.
It looks like Chris Sale could be rewarded with a new contract by the time the Boston Red Sox open the 2019 season.
The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier broke the news on Friday afternoon that the Red Sox are nearing a contract extension with their ace. ESPN’s Jeff Passan followed up by saying the deal could be for five years in the $150 million range.
While the details of the contract haven’t been made official yet, a five-year, $150 million deal sounds about right. It’s hard to imagine the Red Sox guaranteeing more than five years to a pitcher who turns 30 years old this month.
If the $150 million figure proves accurate, the $30 million average annual value would equal Max Scherzer‘s deal with the Washington Nationals. Only three other major league pitchers are signed to deals with a higher AAV.
The contract would appear to be a good value for the Red Sox considering how far short it falls of Zack Greinke‘s record $34.4 AAV. This new deal would pay Sale less than teammate David Price, who averages $31 million on his 7-year, $217 million deal.
The reported total may not be an exact figure but it doesn’t appear that Sale will be breaking any records with his new contract. Perhaps he would have if he waited for free agency after this season, although there was a risk in that approach.
Sale is coming off another spectacular season in which he went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and career-high 13.5 K/9 to finish fourth on the Cy Young ballot. However, shoulder inflammation sent him to the disabled list twice in the second half, limiting him to 158 innings, his lowest since his rookie year.
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He returned late in the season but was treated with kid gloves down the stretch. Sale made five appearances in the postseason, including three starts. The last impression we have of 2018 is Sale striking out Manny Machado with a filthy slider to clinch a World Series title.
Sale looked as dominant as ever on the game’s biggest stage and was sharp in his first appearance this spring. Those are great signs, yet there’s still a bit of concern over his long-term health and if he can continue to handle the heavy workload he’s used to.
That’s what makes this reported extension a fair deal for both sides. Sale will be among the highest paid pitchers in baseball, as he should be, yet may be settling for less than he can get on the open market. He gets financial security without having to worry about how his health may affect his wallet heading into the season while the Red Sox take a significant item off their plate and get cost certainty to help project their budget beyond 2019.
Red Sox owner John Henry commented recently that the team blew it when negotiating with former ace Jon Lester prior to his contract year. It’s clear the club isn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
It’s not a done deal yet but these reports from today make it seem as though the sides are close enough that they’ll get it worked out soon.