The Boston Red Sox won’t be rushing Chris Sale back for 2021
Just as we received some positive news about Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale, it seems like we may be taking one step back. The southpaw is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and it was recently reported that he would soon begin to pitch off of the mound. We haven’t had a concrete return date for the lefty as it’s hard to predict the recovery path for that procedure but today’s news makes it seem later much rather than sooner.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Red Sox wouldn’t be rushing the ace back to the starting rotation anytime soon. Even as he progresses through his rehab process and the season inches closer, Boston isn’t going to feel the heat to force him back before he’s ready. Olney states the length of Sale’s contract as a factor in neither side wanting to push his return to the mound. Sale has four years remaining on his deal and will likely only see the bulk of three of them.
"“But Sale is about to embark on Year 2 of his five-year, $145 million deal that was finalized early in the 2019 season, and so both the team and the pitcher have reason to take a long view on his recovery,” Olney said."
The reasoning that Buster gives is spot on and makes plenty of sense. Before Dave Dombrowski was sent packing from Boston he handed Sale a massive deal well before it needed to be addressed.
It didn’t help that he was given the contract extension after the 2018 season where he started strong but disappeared as the calendar flipped to October. However, the final memory of that World Series win in 2018 will forever be The Condor making Manny Machado look like an idiot.
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Still, it would be foolish of the Red Sox, even with the dire state of their starting rotation, to push Sale to make it back to the team early. As it stands, Eduardo Rodriguez is on track to be ready to rock come Opening Day, and with the recent re-signing of Martín Pérez Boston has some pieces in place to get things done in 2021. For me, I’d rather see Alex Cora and his team play it safe with the newly repaired elbow of Sale and bring him back in a lighter role this upcoming season.
"“The bulk of the left-hander’s production for the Red Sox will happen in the last three years of the deal, and while sources say the team would love for Sale to come back and be a factor at some point in 2021, the Red Sox are apt to take a conservative approach,” Olney added."
Even with the size of the contract, it would be detrimental to both Sale and the Red Sox to bring him back before he’s fully healthy. It’s been made clear that everyone from the ownership down to the lowest person on the totem pole wants this team to be competitive in 2021, and they’ll need the lefty to do so. But if he’s brought back too early and has to go back on the IL then this season will be lost again. Bring him back in short stints for this year then let him run wild in 2022 and beyond.