The Boston Red Sox have agreed to a five-year, $145 million extension with their star pitcher, Chris Sale, per reports from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic via Twitter.
The deal will keep Sale in Boston for an extra five years at an average annual value of $29 million after his current contract expires at the end of this season. ESPN MLB reporter Jeff Passan reported over Twitter that the deal won’t be signed until Sale undergoes a physical examination next week.
Sale has been one of Major League Baseball’s premier power pitchers ever since entering the White Sox rotation in 2012. While he’s never won a Cy Young trophy, he has made seven consecutive American League All-Star teams, and has finished in the top five for Cy Young voting in each of the past six years. He will turn 30 next week, meaning the deal will expire after his age-36 season.
Sale joined the Red Sox from Chicago in 2016 and has continued his brilliant performance in Beantown. He currently holds the MLB all-time record for strikeouts per nine innings (10.88) and strikeout to walk ratio (5.31) among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched.
The extension puts the Red Sox squarely in the highest luxury tax bracket, with slightly over $252 million annually currently committed to contracts counting against the tax. Assuming they don’t shed about $6.5 million, the Sox will have to pay a 75 percent tax on all money exceeding the top $246 million annual threshold, and their top draft pick in the 2020 draft will be pushed back by 10 spots.
Sale isn’t the only player who will need a new contract soon either. Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Cy Young-winner Rick Porcello both have deals which expire after the upcoming season, while slugger J.D. Martinez can opt out of the last three years of his deal if he chooses. American League MVP Mookie Betts will also need a new deal in 2020.
Given Sale’s age and his shoulder inflammation last season — which limited him to just 158 total innings — he likely chose to remain with the Red Sox on a slightly longer deal rather than test a weak free agent market to try and increase his total value. At any rate, this extension will nearly double Sale’s current $15 million salary, once it kicks in before the 2020 season.
Boston will most likely defer any other deals this offseason to avoid paying too many luxury tax penalties. But this extension places the Red Sox squarely in position to defend their 2018 World Series title.