In a transaction that was merely a formality, the Red Sox announced on Tuesday that they've exercised the $15 million option for 2019 on left-handed starting pitcher Chris Sale.
Sale's salary could increase to $16 million if he wins the American League Cy Young Award, which he is among a small handful of candidates for. The winner will be revealed on Nov. 14 on MLB Network.
The #Redsox pick up Chris Sale’s $15 million option, and it will be intriguing now whether they will open talks on long-term contract since he’s eligible for free agency after 2019 or wait until after he recovers from his inflamed shoulder that plagued him in second half.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) 30 de octubre de 2018
Sale is coming off his seventh straight All-Star season, and he was on the mound when the Red Sox clinched the World Series title in a 5-1 win in Game 5 against the Dodgers on Sunday.
The 2018 season was arguably Sale's most trying, most notably relating to the lingering effects that he experienced in his pitching shoulder that sent him to the disabled list twice in the second half of the regular season and limited his availability in the postseason. Sale finished the regular season 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, and he went 1-0 with a 4.11 ERA in the postseason. The Red Sox are 44-22 in games Sale has pitched during his two seasons with the club, including the playoffs.
Acquired in a blockbuster trade at the Winter Meetings two years ago, Sale came to Boston to help fortify its pitching staff and chase a chance at October, which had been elusive to him over his first seven seasons, all with the White Sox. He was dealt for Minor Leaguer Luis Alexander Basabe and touted prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, who immediately became Chicago's top two prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. Moncada and Kopech were both in Boston's long-term plans before its aggressive pursuit of Sale.
Sale, who will be 30 on March 30, is entering the final season of the five-year, $32.5 million contract (plus two option years) he initially signed with the White Sox in 2013, which at the time, gave Sale financial security and the club a long-term commitment. As Sale blossomed into one of the Majors' best pitchers, his contract has been viewed as one of the more club-friendly, particularly for an elite starting pitcher. The contract was another significant factor in why he was so coveted as a trade chip.
Sale has been mostly mum on discussing contract extensions, repeatedly reiterating that those matters aren't on his immediate palate.
On Monday, Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez exercised his $5 million option for 2019. The club's impending free agents include right-handers Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, lefty Drew Pomeranz, second basemen Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips and first baseman/designated hitter Steve Pearce.