Coming off his first season as a member of the Chicago White Sox starting rotation, left-hander Chris Sale and the organization may already be looking ahead to the 23 year old’s future. According to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com, Sale confirmed on Tuesday that his representatives have had some early discussions with the team regarding a contract extension. Sale will be arbitration eligible for the first time next winter if he remains in the Major Leagues for the bulk of the 2013 season.
Sale made 29 starts for Chicago in 2012, totaling 192.0 innings. He posted a 17-8 record, 3.05 ERA, and 1.135 WHIP. He made the All Star Game, finished 6th in AL Cy Young Award voting, and already projects as the ace of the White Sox pitching staff.
Scheduled to earn $600,000 this coming season, Sale could be in line for a significant raise through arbitration next winter. Talks between the two sides appear preliminary at this point, as there truly is no big rush for a deal to be completed. An extension would certainly offer benefits to both – giving the team some cost certainty over Sale’s four pre-free agency seasons while giving Sale financial security – but we can’t assume that a deal will end up getting done.
MLBTR suggests that Trevor Cahill and Clay Buchholz are two possible comparables for an extension, based largely on service time. Cahill signed a five year, $30.5 Million extension with Oakland early in the 2011 season (the deal replaced his existing 2011 commitment). The deal includes a pair of team options that could potentially add another $26.5 Million to it’s overall value. Oakland traded Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks the following winter.
Buchholz agreed to a four year, $29.945 Million deal that same Spring. Interestingly it also contains a pair of club options for 2016 and 2017, potentially valued at the same $26.5 Million that Cahill’s could be worth.
Cahill had made 62 starts for the A’s when he signed his new deal, going 28-21 with a 3.76 ERA over 375.1 IP. Buchholz started 62 games for Red Sox before his extension, posting a 29-21 mark and a 3.68 ERA in 364.1 IP.
Sale has one solid season as a starter under his belt and one dominant one as a reliever. His future is in the rotation, however, and he’ll end up getting paid as a starter if/when a deal is reached between the two sides. He won’t, however, end up with a deal quite as lucrative as Cahill and/or Buchholz. He doesn’t carry a comparable track record to the pair (not yet) and hasn’t earned such a deal. It’s entirely conceivable to expect a similar four year deal, likely with a team option or two that could buyout a year of free agency, but Sale isn’t likely to command the same overall value as two more proven starters did just two years ago.