A few days ago, the Atlanta Braves pulled off a notable trade to land seven-time All-Star pitcher Chris Sale. On Thursday, the franchise made the somewhat surprising announcement that Sale agreed to the terms of a two-year contract extension.
The reworked contract is worth $38 million, according to a press release from the Braves. While the deal ties Sale to the 2021 World Series champions for the next couple of years, the contract also includes an $18 million club option for the 2026 season.
Sale started his career with the Chicago White Sox, but spent the last several years with the Boston Red Sox. He was a member of Boston’s 2018 World Series team.
The 34-year-old Sale will now earn $16 million this season and $22 million in 2025.
He was scheduled to have around $10 million of his 2024 salary deferred until 2039. But, now he will get an additional $10.5 million in guaranteed money without having to wait for a deferred payment.
Promising prospect Vaughn Grissom was dealt to the Red Sox in the trade to acquire Sale. Grissom appeared in 64 games with the big league club over the past two seasons.
He had an impressive MLB debut in a series against the Red Sox. Grissom was called up in August 2022 to fill in at second base for an injured Ozzie Albies. He crushed a ball over the Green Monster for his first hit and first big league home run.
Grissom was an 11th-round draft pick in 2019 and quickly rose through the Braves’ minor league system.
Sale has dealt with a fair share of injuries in recent years. He has made just 31 starts over the last four seasons, including 20 this past year when he went 6-5 with a 4.30 ERA in 102 2/3 innings. The Red Sox are slated to cover $17 million of Sale’s 2024 paychecks.
Nevertheless, the Braves seemed encouraged enough by his numbers over the final two months of the season to deal away one of their top prospects, believing Sale can be the final piece of a rotation that was short on depth last year.
“The last few years he’s obviously had some IL time,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “You can’t run from that.”
Atlanta won 104 games and its sixth straight NL East title, but lost to Philadelphia in the Division Series.
Sale joins a group that includes 2023 All-Stars Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder, longtime ace Max Fried and 40-year-old Charlie Morton. Top prospects AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep could also be in the mix for starts.
Sale has seven straight seasons with double-figure wins, with each of those campaigns including a selection to the All-Star team and a top-six finish in the AL Cy Young balloting.
But since going 12-4 with 2.11 ERA for Boston’s World-Series winning team in 2018, Sale is just 17-18 with a 4.16 ERA in 56 starts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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