How realistic are the Boston Red Sox/Chris Sale trade rumors?
A little more than four years ago, Chris Sale was on top of the world.
Four years later, he’s a giant question mark on the Red Sox roster, and a trade rumor.
Would the Red Sox trade Chris Sale?
According to MLB insider Jon Heyman, teams are “checking in” with the Sox about the injury-magnet southpaw.
The Red Sox acquired Sale ahead of the 2017 season, and his first season in Boston was one of the best of his career. Over a career-high, MLB-leading 214 1/3 innings he posted a 2.90 ERA and led all pitchers with 308 strikeouts. He finished second in American League Cy Young voting, his sixth consecutive season finishing in the top six.
Sale continued his dominance in 2018, but went on the Injured List at the end of July with left shoulder inflammation, and ended up only making one start between July 31-September 11. He pitched fairly well during their postseason run, but his most memorable moment came in the deciding game. In the ninth inning, Sale entered for an almost unheard-of relief appearance and ended the game by getting Manny Machado to strike out swinging so hard he went down to his knee.
Following the 2018 championship, the Sox signed him to a five-year, $145M extension on top of the remaining year of his existing contract.
Unfortunately, Sale ended up struggling out of the gate in 2019 and ended up missing most of August and all of September with the elbow inflammation that signaled Tommy John in his future. He finally had the surgery in April 2020 while the league was paused due to the pandemic, thereby missing the entire season.
Since returning from Tommy John in August 2021, Sale has thrown a grand total of 48 1/3 innings between the last two seasons. In 2022, he began the season on the sidelines with a rib fracture, and when he returned, only threw 5 2/3 innings over two starts. In his second start of the season, a comebacker fractured his pinky, requiring surgery. While rehabbing from that injury, he broke his wrist in a bicycle accident, ending his season before it had even really begun.
This winter, Sale opted into the remaining two years and $55M of the extension he signed in 2019. At this point, it would be a win for him to stay healthy for longer than a month, let alone return to his pre-Tommy John form.
All this to say, it’s hard to see the Red Sox agreeing to trade him, given how low his value is after the last few years. Then again, they could be happy to dump his salary. The wrinkle in that plan is that he has a full no-trade clause, which gives him the power to veto any potential trade.
At this point in a perplexing and baffling offseason, Sale’s future is anyone’s guess.