So what’s going on here? Is Sale OK and are the Red Sox looking to trade him after foolishly signing him to a five-year, $145-million contract that has yet to even begin? Or is Sale injured and are the Red Sox busy trying to find ways to completely rebuild their starting rotation as a result?
Let’s remember that the Red Sox are in a fairly tight predicament. They want to shed about $30 million or more in payroll while addressing needs at first base, second base and on the mound. They have a thin farm system. And they want to contend at the time.
Somebody - or somebodies - must go. And we mean somebody (or more than one) from the group of Nathan Eovaldi ($17 million), David Price ($31 million), Chris Sale ($25.6 million) and, yes, Mookie Betts, the last of whom has a projected salary of $27.7 million next summer and will be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season.
Make no mistake, what Dombrowski’s Sox achieved this year was every bit as extraordinary as in 2018: for the first time in a long, long time – maybe ever? – the Red Sox played a season in which they were largely irrelevant.
Before you suggest it's “good news” that Chris Sale doesn't need surgery, let’s make this clear: Sale does not need surgery NOW, and the Red Sox have a depreciating asset despite limiting him over the last two years.
The Red Sox are now 9-11 behind Price this season and just 8-14 behind Chris Sale, a combined record of 17-25 that would translate into roughly 66-96 over a 162-game schedule. More importantly, the Sox are just 1-3 behind Price and Sale since beginning their 14-game gauntlet against New York and Tampa Bay – and 5-0 behind everybody else.
Sale has a maybe a dozen starts left to validate a baby-Sale plan that certainly seemed to have blown up in the Red Sox’ faces in the earliest stages of this season, when the Red Sox opened by going 6-13 and Sale went 1-7.