Red Sox fans rejoice!
As if Boston needed another reason to gloat about their sports teams, today news came in that Red Sox ace Chris Sale has agreed to an extension to stay with the team for years to come.
Ken Rosenthal reported that the contract will be 5 years, $145 million in total money.
I say total money because Mark Fiensand of MLB is reporting that some money might be deferred. If you’re not familiar with how deferred money works in baseball, essentially the Sox and Sale could agree to that $145 million number, but could mutually agree to have some of that sum allocated to a later date (meaning not over the course of the 5-year deal). This would lower his yearly AAV in the short term, giving the Red Sox some financial flexibility.
Lets say Sale and the Sox agree to that he’ll receive $120 million over 5 seasons (purely hypothetical here), and defer $25 million. Sale’s AAV would be $24 million per season between 2020 and 2024 (versus $29 million per season). The next part is how long Sale would receive those deferred payments. Using our $25 million hypothetical, if Sale and Boston agreed he would receive $2.5 million on July 1 of each year starting in 2025 for 10 years, that means he’ll receive a nice paycheck on that day between 2025 and 2034. That $2.5 million would still count on the Red Sox books each season for a decade, but it’s an easier pill to swallow than $30 million per season in 2020-2024, especially if that $5 million in savings helps you keep players like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Rafael Devers around.
With Sale locked up through 2024, another thing we know is that for the next 4 seasons (through 2022), Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi will be under contract. This, as well as Eduardo Rodriguez being under team control via arbitration through the 2020 season means that the Red Sox have 80% of their rotation set for the next 2 seasons. That’s a good situation to be in.
This Sale contract might not be perfect though.
As we have seen, Sale starts his seasons amazingly, but at some point he reaches a point where he flames out (2017), or there’s an injury (2018). Yes, Sale was the man on the mound to end the 2018 World Series, and the team was good enough where him missing a large part of the final two months of the season did not matter, but if there is a stretch run that is a lot closer in the standings, injury concerns, or burning out, could become a problem.
Now I think it is absolutely warranted to discuss. This extension covers Sale’s ages 31 through 35 seasons, and we could end up in a situation where years 3 through 5 of the deal end up featuring a Sale unlike the one we have seen his entire career to date.
However, I think Chris Sale is such a talented player, and when he’s healthy, he’s a Cy Young caliber pitcher (although he has still yet to win one); you have to keep him around if you’re serious about winning. With players such as Sale (before today), Bogaerts, and JD Martinez being able to hit the market after the 2019 season, securing Sale keeps Boston’s title window open for the foreseeable future.
The team will still have decisions to make on Mookie, Xander, Martinez, JBJ, Porcello, and others, but for now, the same core (save Craig Kimbrel) we saw win 108 games in 2018 is back for another season. Dave Dombrowski came in with a win-now mandate, and he has done everything to accomplish that since his tenure as GM began in August 2015. Sale’s extension is further confirmation that winning is the chief concern of this organization.
Sox fans, this should be the final takeaway: between now and 2024, once every five games, Chris Sale will take the mound for the Red Sox. Sale Day is an electric scene, and there will now be 5 more years of them guaranteed. That works for me.
Follow Nick on Twitter (@Nick_Collins14)