Red Sox opt-out drama can continue with Chris Sale on deck
The Red Sox have contract opt-out issues that have received quite a bit of internet ink. J.D. Martinez is the one with a will he or won’t he issue surfacing. There is a potential market for the slugger, but will it be enough for Martinez to give away nearly $20 million guaranteed?
The next is shortstop Xander Bogaerts who will have his opt-out after next season. The now 30-year-old will have a $20 million decision to mull over. Bogaerts has a full no-trade clause inserted into his contract. For luxury tax purposes, the contracts of Bogaerts and Martinez represent about $42 million.
The most prominent part of both contracts is not the money but the notation of representation. Scott Boras is the agent for both. Boras is hated by fans, loved by clients, and feared by owners. With Boras in the mix, just about anything is possible.
The number one on the charts for the 2022 payroll is Chris Sale with a $25.6 million hit. The trio will account for 41% of Boston’s 2022 payroll as of right now. That, my friends, is a massive chunk of change. It is in the neighborhood of the Tampa Bay Rays’ entire payroll to place it in context.
Sale is also part of the opt-out club after the 2022 season. And for those who feel now is the time to sell, then think again since Sale has a no-trade clause embedded somewhere in that contract. Would it be a good thing for Sale to leave?
So far, Sale has shown that the path back from Tommy John Surgery is successful. The Red Sox have closely monitored Sale’s innings, which were just 42.2 in nine starts. Examining all the puffery of metrics shows the lefty is back in good pre-surgery form. The most significant bump of concern is a career-high of 9.5 H/9.
The assumption is that Sale will slip back to being the dominant hurler when first arriving in Boston. He will also be 33 years old, and that in itself is a marker of possible worry. But taking a positive path, assume Sale replicates his 2017 season. Then we have another salary conundrum.
After the 2022 season, Sale will have two seasons of $27.5 million, followed by the obligatory vesting option of $20 million. In the rarefied air of pitching contracts, Sale may creep into being a bargain. The whole process revolves around the precious numbers that become both traditional and metric.
The agents, potential customers (other teams), Red Sox, media, and all other interested parties will decipher, dissect, and sift through the statistical minutia as the 2022 season goes forward. The amp-up will occur if the Red Sox team wins big, with Sale being a prominent part.
Sale, forgetting age and injury history, tossing up numbers of his illustrious past, and I can see another added to the opt-out carousel. For the Red Sox comes the bind with the presumption the Red Sox and in the playoff mix. This story will certainly “have legs” to use a quaint media term for 2022.
A Sale suddenly becomes a pitching cream puff, and Boston has another albatross contract. Going in the other direction is the angst – from Red Sox Nation – of another player shuffling off for richer pastures. Anyway, it is another contract issue to percolate.