Red Sox: Three Winter Meetings that shaped franchise’s future
By Sean Penney
The Red Sox trade for Chris Sale in 2016
The Winter Meetings are about more than negotiating with free agents. This event also provides an opportunity for teams to discuss trades and one of the biggest deals in recent memory took place during the 2016 meetings.
The Red Sox acquired Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for a package headlined by top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.
Sale was brilliant in his first season in Boston, going 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA to finish as the runner-up for the AL Cy Young award. He made a valiant run at Pedro Martinez’ single-season franchise record for strikeouts, finishing with a league-leading 308 K’s.
The lefty was even more dominant in 2018 when he posted a 2.11 ERA and improved his strikeout rate to a career-high 13.5 K/9. Shoulder inflammation limited him to only 27 starts that season but Sale returned in time for the playoffs to give the pitching staff a boost for their championship run. He came out of the bullpen to record the final out of the World Series, sending Manny Machado to his knees with a filthy slider that he chased for strike three.
Sale hit a rough patch in 2019 and missed this entire year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He’s expected to return in the middle of next season but the five-year, $145 million extension the Red Sox gave him is already starting to look like a potential albatross.
The extension might be questionable but the decision to trade for Sale during the 2016 Winter Meetings was undoubtedly a wise decision. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball for the first two seasons after the trade and the Red Sox wouldn’t have won a franchise-record 108 games and the championship in 2018 without him.