How bad is Chris Sale's contract? These stats paint a rough picture originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
When Chris Sale agreed to a five-year, $145 million contract extension with the Red Sox in March 2019, he had just come off recording the final out in the 2018 World Series and posting his second consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA in Boston.
The Red Sox expected more of that production from Sale over the next half-decade. To say they haven't gotten it would be a massive understatement.
The team revealed Tuesday that Sale will miss the remainder of the 2022 season after fracturing his right wrist while falling off a bike Saturday. It's the latest in a string of freak injuries for Sale, who fractured his rib during a throwing session this spring and returned on July 12 only to break his pinkie finger on a line drive up the middle just five days later.
Sale also missed the entire 2020 campaign and much of the 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. So, what exactly has he brought the Red Sox over the course of his current deal?
Since 2020, when his extension officially kicked in, Sale has made just 11 regular-season starts and three postseason starts for a total of 14 appearances over three years.
Sale will have made $90 million by the end of this season. So for those scoring at home, Boston is currently paying him $8.1 million per regular-season appearance, or $6.4 million per appearance including the postseason.
That's obviously terrible value. (For context, veteran right-hander Nick Pivetta has made 22 starts this season while earning $2.65 million for an average of $120,400 per start.) But the most frustrating part is that Sale has mostly been very effective when healthy.
Here's a look at his regular- and postseason stats since his extension:
Regular season: 11 starts, 48.1 IP, 17 ER, 3.17 ERA, 57 K, 13 BB
Postseason: 3 starts, 9.0 IP, 8 ER, 8.00 ERA, 11 K, 4 BB
While those postseason numbers obviously aren't ideal, Sale has been an elite regular-season starter for Boston since he arrived in 2017, with a 3.09 ERA over five years.
The problem, of course, is that Sale has struggled mightily to stay on the field. The Red Sox expect Sale to be ready for the 2023 season, but he'll be 34 on Opening Day with just 14 total starts over his last three campaigns.
Sale can silence his critics by returning to ace form over the final two years of his deal in 2023 and 2024. But if his injury troubles persist, his current contract could go down as one of the worst in Red Sox franchise history.