Red Sox Pitcher Opts In To Contract: Can He Reach His Former Dominant Heights?

In an unsurprising move, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale has elected to opt in to the final two years of his contract with the team. Sale was certainly not going to get anything close to the $55 million the Red Sox will now pay him if he elected to test the market, as his injury history has kept him off the field for almost the entirety of the contract’s lifespan so far.
Banners fly forever, so the Sox certainly won’t regret the 2016 trade that brought Sale over from the White Sox and won them the 2018 World Series. Fans have been disappointed in the pitcher’s time with the team since then, though, as the lefty has been completely incapable of staying on the field for a sustained period of time. And considering the $145 million price tag on the contract he signed in 2019, that disappointment is reasonable. Sale’s wiry frame and wonky pitching motion always raised concerns about injury, but it’s truly remarkable how much time he’s missed in the last 3 seasons. He managed just 5.2 innings in 2020, with a broken rib in spring training followed by multiple hand injuries in July and August that ended his year for good.

The Red Sox are coming off a disappointing last place finish in a hyper-competitive A.L. East, and starting pitching was one of their key weaknesses. It seems impossible that Sale will look anything like his peak seasons from 2012-2019, when he was good for 150-200 innings of dominance. But with Boston entering a turbulent offseason, with the futures of stars Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers hanging in the balance, another lost season for Sale could spell the end of the team’s competitive cycle. 

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