The fact Chris Sale has pitched fewer than 50 innings over the last three seasons isn’t stopping teams from checking to see if the Red Sox might trade him.
Teams are “checking in” on the availability of Sale, according to a report from Jon Heyman of the New York Post. That doesn’t mean that the Red Sox are necessarily going to move him.
“Red Sox are not looking to trade any of their starters but view rotation as an area of depth and are at least willing to listen, and consider,” Heyman tweeted Sunday. “Sale does have complete no trade clause so he can veto potential deals.”
Sale missed all of 2020 and most of 2021 before returning in August of that season and making nine starts down the stretch before struggling in the postseason. In 2022, he was limited to just 5 ⅔ innings due to three separate injuries (broken rib, broken finger and broken wrist) and was ruled out for the season in August after suffering the broken wrist in a biking accident. The Red Sox expect him to be ready for a full spring training, though they will be cautious with the soon-to-be 34-year-old, who has not thrown more than 160 innings since 2017.
“You talk about the situations he’s been in, the things that have happened, there’s no reason looking at next year that he shouldn’t be able to be a huge part of this,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in October. “But obviously, you could probably go back and find instances of me saying exactly that in a lot of different ways over the last few years. And we know that when somebody hasn’t carried a workload in a while, it means certain things for how you should plan.”
It’s smart for teams to check in on Sale and see if they might be able to acquire a former perennial Cy Young candidate for cheap. The Red Sox probably don’t want to trade Sale for pennies on the dollar, but they may also be willing to get his remaining contract (2 years and $55 million) — or at least part of it — off the books via trade.
While Heyman notes that the Red Sox think their rotation is an area of depth, the group looks weaker at this point than it did in 2022. Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill are all free agents, so the Red Sox project (barring any more additions) to have Sale, Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock and James Paxton in their rotation mix next season with Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford, Connor Seabold and Bryan Mata providing minor league depth. Boston is still expected to add a starter or two before Opening Day; if that happens, a trade is possible. Pivetta, who has two years of control remaining, is a logical candidate to be bought.