The Atlanta Braves came out of nowhere last week with a deal with the Red Sox that sent Vaughn Grissom to Boston and brought seven time All-Star starter Chris Sale to the Braves. While Atlanta adding a starter this offseason is hardly surprising, that it was Sale caught almost everyone by surprise. AA never disappoints.
Under the terms of his old contract, the Braves had Sale under control for the 2024 season and also had a club option for $20 million for 2025. The emphasis here is on "his old contract" because the team announced today that they had agreed to terms on a two year, $38 million extension with Sale with an $18 million club option for 2026.
Chris Sale gets two year extension before pitching an inning for the Braves
In a vacuum, this is a classic Anthopoulos move. AA has a history of betting on the moves he makes with Matt Olson's extension being a notable example. Assuming Sale stays healthy (which is a big "if"), the Braves gain another year of team control, get rid of the deferred money that was owed to Sale under his old deal, and gain some more stability in their rotation which is going to be undergoing a transition in the next couple of years.
In terms of 2024 dollars, not much has changed. The Red Sox sent $17 million over in the earlier trade which covered the Braves' obligation for this season anyways, so the Braves end up about $1 million head this year. Sale gets another $17 million or so in new guaranteed money overall and the deal essentially amounts to the Braves exercising his old contract option with a slight pay bump for 2025 while also gaining another club option at a reasonable rate.
The elephant in the room, of course, is how much Sale is going to be able to take the mound as several injuries including Tommy John surgery has cost Sale significant playing time the last few years. Sale did look good at the end of last season to be sure, but he also has only thrown around 150 innings total since 2019. If he stays healthy, this could be a huge win for Atlanta. If he gets hurt again, then the Braves are back to square one with the prospect of losing Charlie Morton and Max Fried over the next 12 months or so.