The Chicago White Sox made arguably the smartest move since new general manager Rick Hahn took over GM duties with their announcement yesterday that they signed left-handed starter Chris Sale to a new five-year, thumb $32.5 million contract extension with the team that with certain options and escalator clauses in 2018 and 2019 could reach up to $60 million. Locking up one of the premier young starters in the American League that will keep him in a White Sox uniform to year to come.
It’s a very deserving extension for the 23-year-old southpaw, prescription who went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA and 192 strikeouts last year in his first full year in the Majors and was a first time American League All-Star, as well as a AL Cy Young candidate after such a stellar year. As he ranked among the AL leaders in several statistical categories such as ERA (4th), strikeouts per 9.0 IP (4th), wins (T4th), winning percentage (T5th), opponents average (6th), opponents on-base percentage (6th), strikeouts-to-walk ratio (8th) and strikeouts (9th).
“We are thrilled to be able to reward Chris for his accomplishments thus far in his career and to keep one of the best young starter in the league in a White Sox uniform for potentially the next seven years,” Hahn said in a statement released by the team. “We’ve made no secret in the past we want to keep premium players in a White Sox uniform as long as possible. We feel like we’ve taken a step toward doing that today with Chris, and having him here potentially through his age-30 season.”
With the numbers Sale has put up his first two-plus seasons in a Sox uniform with a 21-11 record, a 2.89 ERA and 303 strikeouts in 109 games while holding opponents to a .223 average you could see why it was not only deserving for the young starter, but well earned and a great deal for both sides. As the deal keeps him off the market later this year in what would have been his first year of arbitration eligibility and prevents him from being a free agent following the 2016 season. It also lets the Sox save a lot of money for a player who could be a potential top 5 starter in all of Major League Baseball in the next few years and earned a lot more had he hit the open market.
You gotta also love the move because it keeps the Sox young pitching core of Jake Peavy, John Danks, Sale and Jose Quintana together for at least the next couple years. Not to mention keeping Sale, Danks and Quintana together through 2016. A solid rotation that barring injuries should keep the team in contention for the AL Central if not the World Series the next few years because as we all know pitching and not hitting is the main key to winning championships in baseball, as the Sox AL Central division rival Tigers learned last October in the fall classic.