If you follow our website, then you have probably already heard that the Atlanta Braves have signed Chris Sale to a two-year extension with a third-year club option. Many fans are scratching their heads at the news wondering why the Braves would do such a thing.
The Braves traded Vaughn Grissom to the Red Sox in exchange for Chris Sale and $17 million. At the time, the $17 million covered everything but the $500k that he was due this year. He had another $10 million that was deferred over 15 years, as well. In 2025, Sale only had the security of a $20 million vesting option that would be picked up under certain circumstances. Under the new deal, Atlanta is locked into paying Sale $38 million over the next two seasons. Instead of the $20 million option in 2025, he will now earn a guaranteed $22 million.
The Braves are now guaranteed to spend more money on the 35-year-old injury-prone former ace. We try and explain why the Braves made the move to extend Chris Sale.
1. The Braves have great faith in their medical staff's assessment of Sale's health
If Sale can stay healthy then the Braves are four-deep with aces. They will be in a position to better withstand injuries and trust they have starting pitchers to give them a legitimate chance to win. Not only will it help this year, but it will be a huge boost over the following two seasons as the Braves attempt to build the bridge to the future that probably doesn't involve Max Fried or Charlie Morton. Again, this plan all comes back to faith in Chris Sale's health. Hmmm... maybe Chris Sale is going to be a steal in our fantasy drafts this year. The Braves do not seem to be nearly as concerned as fantasy baseball managers.
2. Perhaps Chris Sale stipulated an extension as part of him waiving his no-trade clause?
The no-trade clause gives the players a lot of leverage. They can demand an extension in exchange for waiving the clause. Perhaps that is what happened with Chris Sale in this scenario. He is now guaranteed $22 million in his age-36 season, whereas before he wasn't guaranteed anything.
3. This extension eliminates $10 million in deferred money.
Perhaps both sides of this deal are happier not messing around with 15 years of deferred payments. The money now will be worth more than it would have been at the time and it benefits both sides in the end. Restructuring this deal was a great idea for the Braves and Sale.
Bonus reason: The sole purpose of this extension was to get Chris Sale to agree to send one percent of his salary to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
I get the head-scratching, but if Sale demanded an extension then this risk is no different than the ones they took on Josh Donaldson, Marcell Ozuna, and Cole Hamels. The Braves gave each of them a one-year deal worth around $20 million. Since the Red Sox are paying the Braves a million dollars more than Sale will earn in 2024, they are still only risking the $22 million Sale will earn next season. Risk mitigated.
One thing is for sure, if Chris Sale can stay healthy and the Braves can get two quality seasons out of him for the price of one, we will once again be thanking Alex Anthopoulos for his foresight.
Thanks for reading! Don't forget to check out more from the House That Hank Built below. Kris Medlen recently stopped by my podcast so make sure you check that out here. We discussed many things, including why Spencer Strider doesn't NEED a 3rd pitch to dominate.