Earlier this week, the Boston Red Sox acquired All-Star left-handed pitcher Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox for a boatload of prospects.
Shipping out of Boston are Yoan Moncada, a consensus top five prospect in baseball, flame-throwing pitcher Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz. Since being selected 13th out of Florida Gulf Coast by the White Sox in 2010, Sale has been nothing short of dominant. He started off as a closer, but since moving to the rotation, Sale has been the second best lefty starter in baseball, save Clayton Kershaw.
He’s made five straight All-Star teams, collecting 70 wins with an ERA of 3.00 along with 1,129 strikeouts in that timeframe. Despite the heavy price it took to acquire Sale, it’s well worth the risk.
Sale is a steal for Boston until 2019, when his contract expires. He’s only making $12 million this year, and has team options for the next two years of $12.5 and $13.5 with a one million dollar buyout attached to each year. Getting a pitcher of Sale’s quality for that cheap for more than just a one-year rental is beyond a steal, it’s straight up highway robbery. The $12 million he’s slated to make this year puts him as the 35th highest paid starter in baseball, with mediocre-at-best pitchers such as James Shields, Homer Bailey and C.C. Sabathia, making more than a guy who has finished in the top ten in Cy Young voting each of the last five years.
Sale now gets to join a rotation that has perennial Cy Young candidate David Price and reigning Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello. No matter who the final two pieces of the rotation are; whether it be Drew Pomeranz, Clay Buchholz, Steven Wright or Eduardo Rodriguez, the Sox should boast the AL’s best rotation, and maybe overall pitching staff, with Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg manning the late innings.
The one arguing point that people have against this deal is that it mortgages the future of the franchise, which couldn’t be further from the truth. And, in addition, everyone who knows about Dave Dombrowski should have seen this coming. He’s a go-getter and is not afraid to wheel and deal his prospects for championships now.
The Sox still have a young core, led by what could be the best trio of outfielders under the age of 26 in Jackie Bradley Jr., a Gold Glove candidate from now until 2025, Mookie Betts, MVP runner-up in 2016, and Andrew Benintendi, who could be the #1 prospect in all of baseball before his eligibility runs out. Not to mention, Xander Bogaerts, who is just one in a long line of great young shortstop talent in the MLB. Also, Blake Swihart should be healthy again, as should Christian Vasquez, which only adds to the depth and talent level of this squad.
Despite the farm losing Moncada, Kopech, Anderson Espinoza and Manuel Margot, among others, the cupboard is far from bare. Rafael Devers is one of the best third base prospects in the game, and has plenty of potential at the hot corner once Pablo Sandoval, who projects to once again be the starting third basemen this year (sigh), moves on. Jason Groome, the seventh overall pick in 2016, has elite stuff and could be another ace in the deck within five years. Sam Travis, who missed the majority of last season with a torn ACL, should be a productive hitter at the big league level. Trey Ball is another name to watch, with his performance not matching his seventh overall pick status, but the talent to become a solid pitcher is still there.
This is an organization that is in a win-now mode, so the timing of the deal makes plenty of sense. Despite being able to get Sale at the deadline last year, the Sox didn’t pull the trigger, thus keeping Betts and Benintendi in Boston. Dombrowski knew his team needed more pitching, and went out and got the deal done. This isn’t a one-year deal that we’ve seen other teams make in an effort to get a ring that year and move on and rebuild. This is a move that not only makes the team better right now, but will keep them competitive for a few more years. The move for Sale makes Boston the hands-down favorite to win the AL.
Cover Photo via Sporting News