Chicago Cubs: Worth waiting to spend big bucks on – #2: Chris Sale
Chris Sale is fresh back from Tommy John surgery and has pretty much picked up where he left off: striking hitters out and dominating anyone who sets foot in the batter’s box. The southpaw is a seven-time All-Star and has a career record of 111-73 to go along with a 3.02 ERA and 3.47 FIP to this point in his 11-year career.
Sale has broke through the 200 innings pitched in a season mark four times and is already over 2,000 strikeouts at just 32 years of age. He is one of few active players that you can say will more than likely join the 3,000 strikeout club at some point in his career. If he stays healthy, he will probably accomplish the feat by his age 36 or 37 season. Since 2013, he routinely breaks 200 punchouts annually with a career best of 308 coming in 2017.
So… about his contract and the only way it could work for the Cubs. First of all, it’s far from cheap. Sale is currently earning $30 million for 2021 and 2022. He has a player option for $27,500,000 for 2023. That’s where it’s tricky. It’s not everyday a player declines a $27.5 million option unless they absolutely are betting on themselves. Sale, who will be entering his age-34 season, just may want to see what the market is like should he stay as dominant as he always has been throughout his career.
It’s the kind of idea where he just may say to himself “If I hit free agency now instead of 2025, I can probably get myself a better deal for the next 4 years until 2027, rather then hoping I am still as good two years from now.” That would be the smartest way to look at it. If you’re still absolutely lights-out you might as well secure the bag as long as possible, even if you find a deal with the same AAV for the first two years and slightly less the following two years, you’re still playing it safe and earning an income past what your current contract states.
It’s not like teams wouldn’t come calling. Should the Cubs be contending in 2023, Sale is somebody that would be at the top of the team’s list should he opt out and try to secure a longer deal at that point.