Chris Sale has agreed to a long-term contract extension with the Red Sox, as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported on Friday morning and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal later confirmed. The deal will cover the 2020-24 seasons and pay Sale a total of $145 million — a $29 million average annual value. Rosenthal reports that the contract also contains an opt-out after 2022:
Breaking: LHP Chris Sale and the Red Sox are close to an agreement on a contract extension https://t.co/YjJhMXbmQe— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) March 22, 2019
Chris Sale extension with #RedSox will be five years, $145 million, sources tell The Athletic. Sale will earn $15M this season in final year of current deal. Extension is pending physical. Will run from 2020 to ‘24.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 22, 2019
Chris Sale has passed his physical. Deal is official, source tells The Athletic - five years, $145M in new money, with deferrals.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 23, 2019
2020 - $30M
2021 - $30M
2022 - $30M
2023 - $27.5M
2024 - $27.5M
Opt-out after three years.
The Red Sox had openly expressed a desire this spring to extend the 29-year-old lefty, who has been an All-Star and received AL Cy Young votes for each of the last seven years, along with MVP votes in each of the last four. However, with Sale being very arguably the most dominant starting pitcher in the American League, with a low-stress delivery that could set him up to succeed well into his 30s, it wouldn’t have been a surprise in any way to see him test free agency.
Sale is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he posted a 2.11 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP, 237 strikeouts, and just 34 walks over 27 starts (158 innings). He was somewhat inconsistent during the postseason but entered as a reliever in Game 5 and recorded the final out of the World Series.
For what it’s worth, there could be some durability concerns for Sale right now, perhaps incentivizing him to take this deal with Boston. He spent two stints on the disabled list after the All-Star break due to left shoulder inflammation, and he tailed off rather substantially in September and the playoffs. But if he’s healthy, he’ll certainly be one of the most valuable starting pitchers in baseball, and keeping him in the fold is essential as the Red Sox try to get everything they can out of their current core.